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High-school shooter, Jeff Weise, labeled "Goth"

RED LAKE, MN -- A suicidal, highly disturbed teen with a traumatic past, Jeff Weise, the 16-year-old youth who went on a shooting rampage in his highschool, has been labeled "gothic," by the media.

Known for drawing gorey comics about death and shootings, as well as referring to himself as "Todosengel" (the Angel of Death) and sporting a black trenchcoat and combat boots, Weise is the latest popular embodiment of this socially aberrant, misunderstood subculture.

On Monday, March 21st, Weise entered his small, rural highschool of about 300 students, wielding two pistols and a shotgun, and proceeded to shoot at random. The teen killed five students, a security guard, and a teacher, before committing suicide. Earlier that day, he had killed his grandfather with whom he lived, and his grandfather's girlfriend.

In the horrific aftermath, not many words can be given except condolences for those who have been scarred by the tragedy. However, it was not long after the event that the media began to pick up on popular stereotypes and clichés surrounding Weise's clothing style and musical tastes.

One statement in particular, made by survivor Allan Mosey, 14, has been circulating widely in the media. Remarked Mosey, "He was a Goth."

Now, in almost every news story dealing with the incident, this assertion has cropped up relentlessly. But was Weise part of the large, underground artistic movement known by the "Goth" label, and did he ever claim to be such?

Other statements following the aforementioned have also surfaced in recent days. Said 15-year-old, Cody Thunder, a wounded survivor of the massacre who had attempted to reach out to Weise previously, "It looked like he was trying to be evil." The remark was made in reference to Weise's appearance, which included two hair spikes resembling devil horns.

Added Sondra Hegstrom, fellow class-mate, "[Weise often wore] a big, old, black trench coat." Such imagery has been popularized and commonly associated with the Goth rock movement by films like The Matrix.

Others who are into the Goth culture, however, beg to differ. Brittney Borton, a Michigan high-school junior, refers to the allegation as "Crap." Borton explains that wearing black, being associated with Naziism, and being a loner, "does not make one's self a 'Goth.'" She added that Weise's actions rather made him "somebody in the need of attention."

Others, like Kae Lunde, an Indiana high-schooler, believe that whether or not Weise was a "Goth" is not really an issue. "Anyone could do that," stated Lunde. "Whether goth, punk, prep, jock, you name it. . . . Goths just seem to be good people to pinpoint because they stand out more than others."

In actuality, no one has recalled Jeff Weise ever claiming to be a fan of the Goth rock movement. Weise was, however, an active participant of a Libertarian National Socialist Green Party message board, an admirer of Nazi leader, Adolph Hitler, and often expressed his disgust that his native race had allowed itself to become polluted and influenced by other cultures.

Yet, many others fear that the heavily publicized myth that Weise was part of the Goth movement will ultimately bring harm to the more peaceful Goth rock enthusiasts.

Greg Oswald, a resident of Kansas, who is also involved in the movement, feels that this incident will drag Goths "out of the underground onto a national level" of focus. He also fears that there will be an increased effort to convert Goths to more socially acceptable people.

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