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Stephen J. Lee, Forum News Service, Published November 27 2013

Belcourt death prompts manhunt, lockdown but no arrests

BELCOURT, N.D. – A widespread search for two suspects in a fatal shooting here early Wednesday was called off by noon because authorities were certain of the suspects’ location and the safety of the public.

One man is dead in Belcourt on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Rolette County.

The FBI is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other agencies on the investigation, said FBI spokesman Kyle Loven.

“No one is in custody,” Loven said Wednesday night. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Even so, Loven said, “there is no public safety issue. This is an ongoing matter, but we do not believe this was a random act of violence.”

His office also is not yet describing the death as the result of a shooting or as a homicide.

“It’s a suspicious death,” he said late Wednesday. “If the facts determine it is, we will call it a homicide.”

Wednesday morning, public safety officials in the region said they were seeking two suspects in a fatal shooting at a Belcourt home.

Turtle Mountain Tribal Emergency Manager Anita Blue, who also serves as the spokeswoman for the tribe, said early Wednesday that several aircraft were flying as part of the effort to track the suspects.

Blue said she didn’t have specifics on the reported shooting or victims. However, she said it happened at a house in the Eagle’s View subdivision of about 60 homes.

Sheriff’s departments in Rolette County, around Belcourt, and nearby Pierce County in Rugby, said its deputies had blocked off roads around Belcourt to assist in the search for two suspects.

News of the shooting had the entire region on alert, with several local agencies involved in roadblocks.

Public schools in the region, the Turtle Mountain Community College and tribal headquarters were locked down for safety’s sake, Blue said.

Mike McNeff, superintendent of schools in Rugby, which is about 45 minutes from Belcourt, said Rugby police phoned him between 7 and 8 a.m. to say there had been a shooting and possible homicide in Belcourt.

Police advised a number of institutions in Rugby, including the hospital, elementary school and high school, to go into lockdown because they weren’t sure where the responsible parties were.