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Published November 27, 2013, 09:56 AM

Search called off for suspects in Belcourt shooting

Main elements of the region-wide search for two suspects in a fatal shooting in Belcourt, N.D., early today was called off shortly before noon, apparently because law enforcement authorities were certain of the location of the suspects, according to law enforcement sources.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

Main elements of the region-wide search for two suspects in a fatal shooting in Belcourt, N.D., early today was called off shortly before noon, apparently because law enforcement authorities were certain of the location of the suspects, according to law enforcement sources.

One person is dead in Belcourt, which is on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, near the Canadian border in Rolette County.

The FBI is working with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other agencies on the open investigation, said Kyle Loven, spokesman in the FBI's Minneapolis office which oversees North Dakota.

"There is a suspicious death we are investigating," Loven said about 12:30 p.m. today. "It's a fluid situation."

Loven would not confirm that one suspect was in custody and another's whereabouts in the Belcourt area were known, as a local law enforcement source told the Herald shortly before noon.

But the FBI spokesman did say: "At this point, law enforcement does not believe that public safety is in jeopardy," Loven said. "But we are moving forward with our investigation."

Earlier this morning, public safety officials said they were seeking two suspects in a fatal shooting at a home in Belcourt.

Turtle Mountain Tribal Emergency Manager Anita Blue, who also serves as the spokesperson for the tribe, said earlier this morning several aircraft were flying in an attempt to track the suspects.

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.

Blue said she didn't have specifics on the shooting or victims. However, she said the incident happened at a house in the Eagle's View subdivision, which has approximately 60 homes, in Belcourt.

By about 11:50 a.m., area sheriff's departments had pulled their road block operations, according to spokespeople at the departments.

Rolette County Sheriff Rodney Trottier said he just canceled the road blocks his deputies were involved in, at about 11:50 a.m. today.

Officials at the Belcourt police department and Pierce County Sheriff's Department in Rugby confirmed the roadblocks had been cancelled at that time.

A law enforcement source, speaking unofficially because he didn't have authority to speak for the federally-led investigation, said it appears one of the suspects has turned himself in this morning to Belcourt police and another is "in the area."

Tribal sources indicated a Belcourt native in his late 20s was dead from the shooting, but law enforcement sources would not yet confirm the identity, so the Herald is not publishing his name at this time.

The man's Facebook account included notes of grieving from those who know him.

He has a lengthy criminal record in North Dakota, including convictions on drug, domestic assault and fleeing police and has spent time in jail in North Dakota and Minnesota in recent years, according to court records. He recently has lived in Fargo.

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

Rolette County Sheriff Rodney Trottier earlier told Forum News Service his office was assisting in a manhunt for "a couple of individuals" who may be connected to at least one death in Belcourt.

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, N.D., 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 and the elementary school and high school to go into lock down, as they weren't sure where the responsible parties were, McNeff told Forum News Service earlier this morning.

McNeff said they did go into lockdown at the elementary school and high school, meaning the doors are locked and they are paying attention to who is around.

This afternoon, McNeff said although he had heard that the suspects reportedly had been corralled, he was going to keep the lock-down in place.

"It's just easier this way, less confusing for our patrons," McNeff said. And simpler, he said, than putting out another alert calling off the lockdown for the last three hours of the day.

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