March 30, 2005 in Nation/World

Tribal leader says son had no role in shooting

P.J. Huffstutter Los Angeles Times
 
Associated Press photo

Louis Jourdain, left, is escorted by U.S. Marshals from the Federal Courthouse Tuesday in Duluth, Minn.
(Full-size photo)

CHICAGO – Louis Jourdain, the 16-year-old son of tribal leader Floyd Jourdain Jr., has been charged in connection with last week’s shootings on the Red Lake reservation that left 10 people dead.

The teenager – whom family members say was on the middle school chess team and was friends with gunman Jeffrey Weise – appeared in a closed federal court hearing in Duluth, Minn., on Tuesday.

Louis Jourdain was arrested on the Red Lake reservation, about 240 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Sunday afternoon.

Authorities declined to say what role Louis Jourdain may have played in the attack. But sources familiar with the investigation and speaking on condition of anonymity said authorities had been considering whether to charge the teen with conspiracy to commit murder.

Investigators arrested Louis Jourdain after questioning several local students. The sources said investigators uncovered e-mails and electronic documents that, among other things, showed Weise had discussed school shootings and armed attacks on the rural high school campus with others.

On a personal Web site, Floyd Jourdain described his son as “my pride and joy” who “always shares his school achievements with me.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, the tribal leader insisted his son was innocent, calling him “a good boy with a good heart who never harmed anyone in his entire life.”

“I know my son, and he is incapable of committing such an act,” wrote Floyd Jourdain, 40. “As events unfold, it will be proven that the individual who committed this horrible crime did so of his own choice and that he acted alone. I strongly believe that my son will be cleared of these charges.”

Weise, 16, killed his grandfather – who was a veteran tribal police officer – and his grandfather’s girlfriend March 21 before heading to Red Lake High School. There, he fatally shot five students, a teacher and a security guard before killing himself.

Seven others were wounded by Weise, who had a history of depression and was believed to have espoused Nazi philosophy in Internet postings. During the shooting, friends say Louis Jourdain was at school, studying at the school library.

On Tuesday, clad in baggy jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt, Louis Jourdain was handcuffed and escorted by U.S. Marshals into the federal courthouse. His father, who declined to discuss the matter beyond his statement, entered soon after.

Three hours later, the teen was led away from the courthouse. The hearing was closed to the public.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger in Minneapolis, citing federal restrictions regarding cases that involve minors, declined to talk about the case. Louis Jourdain’s attorney, Jon Hopeman, made no comment on the matter.

Throughout the past week, as many Chippewa retreated into silence amid the horror of the events, Floyd Jourdain has emerged as a public voice for the Red Lake Nation. During a news conference last week, he said the shootings were a grim reminder that the community – as well as parents nationwide – needed to pay more attention to the actions of its youths.

“We need to pay attention to what they’re saying and what they’re doing,” he said.

The arrest of Louis Jourdain came as both a surprise and an enormous blow to the tribe because the family has long been a political powerhouse in the region.

“I’m shocked. Everyone is,” said Red Lake High Principal Chris Dunshee, who said Louis Jourdain had no history of disciplinary problems. “His father is a good man. Louis is a good young man.” FBI officials declined to comment on the shootings late Tuesday.


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