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Dave Roepke, Published January 15 2010

Stabbing victim expected to live

A 22-year-old man stabbed Wednesday afternoon in Mapleton, N.D., is likely to live, the lead detective on the case said Thursday.

Detective Steve Gabrielson of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office said the victim of the knife attack, Dante Smith of Fargo, was in a serious enough condition to force investigators to wait until today to interview him, but doctors at Innovis Health told him that Smith should survive.

Smith has been uncooperative in helping investigators piece together the attack, which was reported by a truck driver passing by the scene Wednesday.

The victim was stabbed once in the right side of his stomach, a wound that left him soaked in blood and screaming for help in the 100 block of Meridian Road when the first 911 call came in at 3:09 p.m.

Cass County authorities said Wednesday night that they wanted to talk to Nicholas Bruesch, a 22-year-old who was living with his father in a house next to the one where Smith found help as he waited for paramedics.

Bruesch was described as a “person of interest,” not a suspect. Bruesch has a long criminal history, including at least five assault convictions. He doesn’t have a listed phone number.

After being interviewed on Thursday, Bruesch was released, Gabrielson said. The detective said it’s not yet clear what the motive for the stabbing was, and Cass County officials aren’t ready to seek charges.

“There are still lots of questions, maybe even more questions,” he said after speaking to Bruesch. “We want to make sure we don’t make any decisions we regret.”

Bruesch’s car was recovered in north Fargo on Thursday after a suspected gas drive-off, Gabrielson said.

A woman who was in the car when it was recovered may be a witness to the stabbing, Gabrielson said, but as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday she was too intoxicated to talk to officers.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535