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Published November 21, 2012, 08:49 AM

Counselors help students deal with North Dakota killings

MINTO, N.D. (AP) — Counselors are helping students in two North Dakota communities cope with the weekend slayings of three children and their grandmother in New Town.

MINTO, N.D. (AP) — Counselors are helping students in two North Dakota communities cope with the weekend slayings of three children and their grandmother in New Town.

Counselors have been on hand at the elementary, middle and high schools in New Town, a Fort Berthold Indian Reservation community where the shootings took place Sunday. Classes were canceled Monday but resumed Tuesday.

"It's just a very somber mood here," High School Principal John Gartner told The Dickinson Press.

Counselors also have been working with students in the northeastern community of Minto, where the three children had lived until about two months earlier.

Benjamin Schuster, 13, Julia Schuster, 10, and Luke Schuster, 6, along with two other siblings, came to New Town to live with their grandparents, Martha and Harley Johnson, because their mother was suffering from "emotional issues," according to The Rev. Grant Patterson, the family's pastor.

The three children and Martha Johnson were gunned down in their home Sunday afternoon, while Harley Johnson was out hunting. The other two siblings were not hurt.

A New Town man who killed himself in Parshall later in the day, Kalcie Eagle, 21, is considered a person of interest in the case, FBI spokesman Kyle Loven told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The FBI is handling the investigation because it has jurisdiction in Indian Country. Loven declined to discuss details of the case again Wednesday, citing agency policy for ongoing investigations, but he reiterated that authorities do not consider the public to be in danger.

Three Affiliated Tribes spokeswoman Glenda Embry told the AP on Wednesday that there was still a sense of shock in the community of about 2,000 people.

"People are just absolutely stunned. It's like, how could this happen here?" she said. "In North Dakota, I've always felt really safe. It's almost like it's unreal."

A special Mass was held at a local Catholic church on Tuesday night in response to the shootings, Embry said. About three dozen people attended.

In Minto, the children are remembered as "marvelous kids, just kind and gentle kids," Superintendent Linda Lutovsky, who also is a school counselor, told the Grand Forks Herald.

The children's parents, Kevin and Rebecca Schuster, are in the New Town and Minot area, talking with investigators, as well as spending time with their two surviving children, who are receiving counseling, according to Scott Schuster, Kevin's cousin.

"It's just a horrible deal," he told the Grand Forks Herald.

Scott Schuster said a memorial service will likely take place in Warsaw, near Minto, where the Schusters were members of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church.

"Our parish family of St. Stanislaus Church in Warsaw as well as our fellow parishioners at Sacred Heart Church in Minto are deeply saddened and shocked by this senseless tragedy," the Rev. John Kleinschmidt, pastor of both churches, said in a statement.

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