A neo-Nazi teenager who called himself the Angel of Death killed his grandfather and then stole his weapons and police car before embarking on a bloody shooting spree at a United States school, it emerged tonight.
Jeff Weise, 16, who openly admired Adolf Hitler, massacred nine people before finally turning the gun on himself on a remote Indian reservation.
Detectives believe he acted alone and killed at random, although they said his actions indicated that at least part of the attack was premeditated.
It was the deadliest school shooting in the US since the Columbine massacre in 1999 that killed 13 people.
FBI special agent Michael Tabman said Weise had gone to the home of his grandfather, a police officer, killing the man and his wife before jumping behind the wheel of his police car and heading for the school where he killed seven more people.
Armed with a police-issue pistol, shotgun and wearing a bullet-proof vest, he killed a security guard before pursuing two teachers into a classroom and opening fire.
He then went on the rampage through the school, killing randomly, before exchanging gunfire with police and eventually shooting himself. The entire incident on Monday lasted no more than 10 minutes.
Mr Tabman said they did not have a motive for the shootings or know whether there had been any confrontation between Weise and his grandfather.
At one point, Weise was captured on videotape in the school corridor. One student said her classmates pleaded with Weise to stop shooting.
“You could hear a girl saying: ‘No, Jeff, quit, quit. Leave me alone. What are you doing?'" said student Sondra Hegstrom.
During the rampage, teachers herded students from one room to another, trying to move away from the sound of the shooting, witnesses said.
Weise was caught on camera in the corridor, but no shootings were.
Reggie Graves, a student at Red Lake High School, said he was watching a film about Shakespeare in class when he heard the gunman blast his way past the metal detector at the school’s entrance, killing a guard.
In a nearby classroom he heard the gunman speak to his friend.
“He asked Ryan if he believed in God,” Graves said. “And then he shot him.”
The victims included the gunman’s grandfather; the grandfather’s wife; a school security guard; a teacher and five other students. At least 14 others were wounded, officials said.
“There’s not a soul that will go untouched by the tragic loss that we’ve experienced here,” said Floyd Jourdain, chairman of the Red Lake Chippewa Tribe.
“Our community has been devastated. We are in disbelief and shock.”
Weise had been placed in the school’s Homebound programme for some violation of policy, school board member Kathryn Beaulieu said.
Students on the programme stay at home and are taught by a travelling teacher.
Student Ashley Morrison said she heard shots, then saw the gunman’s face peering though a door window of a classroom where she was hiding with several other students. After banging at the door, the gunman walked awa and she heard more shots, she said.
“I can’t even count how many gunshots you heard, there was over 20 … There were people screaming, and they made us get behind the desk,” she said.
All of the dead students, including the killer, were found in one room.
Relatives said Weise was a loner who usually wore black and was teased by other kids.
They said his father committed suicide four years ago, and his mother was nursing home after suffering brain injuries in a car accident.
The teenager admired German dictator Adolf Hitler and was a suspect following threats made at his school last year, he revealed in an internet forum frequented by neo-Nazis.
“I guess I’ve always carried a natural admiration for Hitler and his ideals, and his courage to take on larger nations,” Weise wrote on the website.
He said he was interested in finding like-minded Indians and was against interracial mixing.
In one message he said he had been questioned by police in connection with an alleged shooting threat at the school on April 20, Hitler’s birthday.
Alternately using the online pen names Todesengel – German for Angel of Death - and NativeNazi, Weise wrote several messages in which he said he believed Hitler and the Nazi movement that embroiled the world in war and caused millions of deaths got a bad press.
Red Lake High School has about 300 students. The reservation is some 240 miles north of Minneapolis and is home to the Red Lake Chippewa Tribe, one of the poorest in the state.