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Published July 06, 2011, 01:44 PM

2 Arrested in Connection to Erskine, MN, Shooting

The victim and suspects of a Fourth of July shooting in Erskine, MN, have been identified by the Polk County Sheriff's Department.

By: WDAZ Staff Report,

The victim and suspects of a Fourth of July shooting in Erskine, MN, have been identified by the Polk County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities say 17-year-old Mark Anthony Garcia and 18-year-old Daniel Morales, both from Crookston, MN, were arrested in connection to the shooting. They appeared in court Wednesday, according to Sheriff Barb Erdman.

The victim, 18-year-old Octavio Benavidez of Crookston was taken to Essentia Health in Fosston, MN, after the shooting and then was airlifted to a Fargo hospital. He has since been treated and released.

According to court documents, the three were in the basement of the home at 408 2nd Ave. S. in Erskine. Garcia and Morales were allegedly in posession of a stolen Colt .45 at about 7 a.m. Monday when the gun went off. Garcia is accused of pointing the gun at Benavidez when it discharged, although the suspects have been providing differing stories.

An arresting officer reported Garcia said that he had shot his friend.

A Fosston paramedic told investigators that Benavidez said he had been walking around Erskine on Monday morning when he heard a gunshot and started to experience pain and realized he had been shot, but investigators found what appeared to be blood on the front steps, door and floor at the home where Benavidez was apparently shot and located a bronze slug and a .45 caliber shell casing in the basement, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

Morales has been charged with two counts of felony theft and several other felony charges, including receiving stolen property, solicitation of a juvenile, aiding an offender to avoid arrest and aiding an offender after the fact.

Garcia was charged with felony theft of a firearm, possession of stolen property, felony theft, misdemeanor theft, assault in the second degree and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality.

There were several complaints of vehicle burglaries in Erskine over the Fourth of July weekend, including one in which a Colt .45 handgun and ammunition was stolen.

Police found the gun after searching outside a Crookston residence.

It is unclear at this time if the shooting was an accident.

The Polk County Sheriff's Department says the case is still active and under investigation.

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