Families reacted with fury after a friend of the teenage gunman who killed 10 people at an Indian reservation school was sentenced in secret for his role in the massacre.
The sentence for Louis Jourdain, 17, a tribal chairman’s son who pleaded guilty last year to making threatening interstate communications, was not revealed after the hearing in Minneapolis yesterday.
Jourdain was a friend of Jeff Weise, who shot dead nine people on the northern Minnesota reservation before killing himself.
Quoting anonymous sources, the Star Tribune reported on its website early today that Louis Jourdain was sentenced to spend up to a year at a private juvenile rehabilitation and treatment centre and that the length of his confinement depended on his rehabilitation.
The teenager will be on probation until he is 21, and during that period, a federal judge will have discretion to send him to other facilities as a condition of probation, the paper reports.
Jourdain’s father, Floyd, would not disclose the nature of the sentence, but his comments suggested it was not severe.
“The judge’s ruling will reflect what I’ve maintained all along … my son is a good kid,” he said, adding that his son “feels extremely terrible about what happened at Red Lake”.
Lawyers left the Minneapolis federal court without commenting.
A judge barred victims of the shooting or their survivors from the closed juvenile proceedings, ruling that they were not victims of the crime for which Jourdain was being sentenced and that the proceedings would not answer their questions about the rampage on March 21 last year.
Weise, 16, killed his grandfather and the man’s companion, then went to Red Lake High School, where he killed five students, a teacher and security guard Derrick Brun, 28, before killing himself, in the worst school shooting since Columbine.
Jourdain was once accused of conspiring with Weise, and not knowing his punishment or other details frustrated victims’ family members, including Francis Brun, Derrick Brun’s father.
“It’s a double whammy for those of us that are victims, that have been denied the right to gather information about how our family member died and whether there was any evidence … that may have given a rundown of Louie’s involvement with Jeff Weise,” Brun said.
Jourdain admitted last year that he made threatening interstate communications, a crime that can carry up to five years in prison.
A court docket released in November, some of it blacked out, said the younger Jourdain used a computer to conduct interstate communications that “could be taken by an objective observer as threatening”, some time between January 1, 2003, and March last year.
The sentencing hearing was closed despite efforts by shooting victims and the media to make it public. Prosecutors told family members of victims they were prohibited from talking about the sentence, the families said.
Some of those at the court directed their frustration at Floyd Jourdain, who is not subject to any such restrictions.
“I don’t understand why he can’t come and tell us,” said LeeAnn Thunder, whose son Steven Cobenais was shot in the face in Weise’s attack.
“I mean, it was closed upstairs, but he’s walking out right now, so why can’t he tell us?”
Cobenais, a sophomore, said he held Jourdain partly responsible for the shootings and hoped he would go to prison “because of what he did to us kids and all of our friends”.
US Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger plans to meet the families of Weise’s victims on January 30, but said last night that he would not reveal the sentencing.
Heffelfinger also said that although the judge reminded Floyd Jourdain that the sentencing was a confidential matter, the court had no authority over the chairman.