BEMIDJI, Minn. – As police stood guard outside a Minnesota hospital, small groups of people gathered, many fearing the worst as they awaited word on whether family or friends were among the victims of a school shooting on an Indian reservation.
The scene outside North Country Regional Hospital (search) was eerily calm Monday night, with the exception of hushed whispers and sobbing. Vehicles came and went as people milled about in the parking lot, crying and smoking cigarettes.
"I'm kind of wondering how everyone else is doing," said Susan Fairbanks, whose younger brother was injured in the shootings.
Fairbanks said her brother, 15-year-old Lance Crowe, was shot three times in Monday's massacre at Red Lake High School (search). She talked to him before surgery.
"He said that his friends died and that he was scared," said Fairbanks, 17.
She missed school on Monday because she didn't have a ride. Her brother told her, "He was glad that I wasn't there to see it."
Authorities say a high school student killed his grandparents at their home, then gunned down seven people at his school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation (search). According to FBI officials, the boy exchanged gunfire with police before retreating to a classroom, where he was believed to have shot himself.
The gunman's motive was not immediately known.
Earlier in the night at the hospital, three men comforted each other in a smoking area just off the parking lot. One held his face in his hands and broke down in tears.
Another man, approached by a reporter, cried and said, "I'm just not ready yet."
One man, who didn't give his name, said one of his loved ones had died. Moments later, three teenagers pulled up in a car and raced inside, clearly shaken. A young woman in the group was in tears.
About 5,000 people live on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, almost all of them American Indians. The Red Lake Chippewa Tribe (search) itself has about 9,400 enrolled members.
Nearly 39 percent of the families on the reservation live below the poverty line. Because the reservation is so remote, the tribe has largely missed out on the lucrative casino revenues that some other Minnesota tribes enjoy.
Tribal police ordered reporters off the reservation after Monday's shootings.