Why Didn't Someone Do Something Before School Shooting?

ByABC News
March 24, 2005, 5:30 PM

March 26, 2005 — -- Now they're saying he was a "ticking time bomb." If he were, why didn't somebody stop Jeff Weise before he turned his high school into a slaughterhouse?

Bemidji, Minn., is where you can find out what the cold is. At temperatures of 24 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of minus 80, exposed skin feels like it is peeling away your body.

Near this town in northern Minnesota is the Red Lake Chippewa Reservation. Some 5,000 Native Americans live on this vast, flat plain of isolation. Forty percent of the people are unemployed, most live in poverty, and both the number of gangs formed and the amount of drugs and alcohol consumed have been rising.

Put the 16-year-old Chippewa Indian -- with his troubled family and his admiration for Hitler -- in the middle of this environment, and somebody should have known there could be trouble.

When he was 8 years old, Jeff's father committed suicide after a daylong standoff with police. His mother, who had remarried, was involved in a serious car accident that left her brain-damaged. She is confined to a wheelchair and living in a nursing home. Jeff moved in with his grandmother, who then left his grandfather, a tribal police officer.

At Red Lake High, he was considered smart by teachers, but the students described him as "odd." He wore black all the time, a Goth. They say he drew swastikas in his notebook and seemed to have no friends at school. Turns out he had been online frequently communicating with a neo-Nazi organization. His log-on name was a German word meaning "Angel of Death."

School officials took disciplinary action against Jeff, and he reportedly received psychiatric care. So people saw a kid in crisis, but nobody suspected his problems would lead to murder.

On a cold March afternoon, Jeff went to his grandfather's house and shot him and the grandfather's girlfriend. Jeff then took his grandfather's shotgun, two handguns and a bulletproof vest, and drove his police cruiser to Red Lake High School.