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Chris Chastain, Published July 05 2009

Maybe tragedy was avoidable

Two weekends before Joel LaFromboise was gunned down, at around 1:30 a.m., a young man barged into my house through the patio door while I was watching TV. I immediately jumped to my feet and confronted the man who responded by backing out into the patio from which he just entered.

I turned on my bright patio light and began scolding him, only to find a very apologetic, nonthreatening individual who seemed very confused and dazed as if on some potent drug. I noted that he had dried blood on his lips and had a bloody, gashed hand.

He explained that his family had just moved to Moorhead and that he was looking for his sister, as if to offer an excuse for entering my house. Seeing his condition and that he was anything but threatening, I asked if I could call for some medical help. He refused and simply wanted to be on his way, asking if I knew where Concordia College was. I gave him the general directions and he departed, disappearing into the dark.

I then called the police, who came out and took details of the incident. They said a person of that description had been reported earlier in the area knocking on front doors.

When the story of LaFromboise’s shooting came out in The Forum two weeks later, I immediately recognized (from the photo as well as other details provided) that the young man who had earlier barged into my house was Joel LaFromboise.

I can only wonder: If the police had been successful at apprehending him that night, maybe he would have gotten the help he needed and the tragedy that eventually beset his family (and Vernon Allen) would have been avoided.

I contacted the police with this information as soon as I recognized my intruder from the Forum photo, but they have taken no action. Perhaps even a fingerprint from my patio door would be prudent for verifying a relevant detail in the whole incident.