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Friend: School Shooter On Prozac

The teenager who went on a shooting rampage at his high school was put on the antidepressant Prozac after a suicide scare last summer, a longtime friend said. Family members said the boy's dosage had recently been increased.

Jeff Weise, 16, also had watched a movie about a school shooting with friends earlier this month — skipping ahead to some of the most violent scenes, according to Sky Grant, a friend of Weise's since sixth grade.

Grant, also 16, said Weise brought the 2003 movie "Elephant" to Grant's house on March 4, then skipped ahead to the parts of the movie that show two students planning and carrying out a school shooting.

The teens talked about the movie afterward, but Weise didn't say anything that made them think he planned to emulate the movie, Grant said. "It all seemed normal," he said.

Authorities said they don't know what motivated Weise to kill nine people before they believe he shot himself on Monday at Red Lake High School. The dead included a teacher and a security guard at the school; Weise's grandfather and his companion were killed earlier at the grandfather's house.

Grant and his mother, Gayle Downwind, said Weise was taken to a psychiatric ward in Thief River Falls last summer after Weise frightened another friend with suicidal computer messages. Grant said he didn't know how long Weise stayed at the hospital.

Grant, who was taking Zoloft, said he and Weise talked in detail about antidepressants. He said Weise told him he was taking 40 milligrams a day of Prozac: 20 in the morning, 20 at night.

"He was a lot more quiet. I wouldn't say any better," Grant said.

Family members told the New York Times that Weise's dose had recently been increased to 60 milligrams a day.

"I can't help but think it was too much, that it must have set him off," an aunt, Tammy Lussier, told the paper.

In October, the Food and Drug Administration ordered that all antidepressants carry "black box" warnings of an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children. Prozac is the only antidepressant found to be safe and effective for children.

In several online postings attributed to Weise, he wrote of depression and feelings of worthlessness. In a Jan. 4 blog posting, he wrote: "I should've taken the razor blade express last time around. ... Well, whatever, man. Maybe they've got another shuttle comin' around soon?"

Dr. David Fassler, an American Psychiatric Association trustee and child and adolescent psychiatrist in Burlington, Vt., said Prozac and other antidepressants can be effective along with other treatment, such as therapy.

Fassler said daily dosage ranges from 10 to 60 milligrams, based on body size and composition and individual treatment plans. The severity of a child's depression is not a factor in determining dosage, he said.

In his first public comments about the shooting, President Bush on Saturday praised a security guard credited with saving some students by confronting Weise. Bush said he and his wife were praying for the victims and federal agencies were helping the Red Lake community.

Wakes had begun for some of the Red Lake victims, with the first funerals scheduled Saturday for Weise's grandfather, Daryl "Dash" Lussier, his companion Michelle Sigana, and Chase Lussier, 15. Gov. Tim Pawlenty was scheduled to attend.

The school isn't scheduled to reopen until next month.

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