Four killed on reservation in New Town, North Dakota. According to timesunion.com, the FBI are investigating the shooting deaths of a woman and her three grandchildren on an American Indian reservation called the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The FBI is leading the investigation because the federal government has jurisdiction over crimes in Indian Country.
Martha Johnson, 64, and three of her grandchildren were gunned down in her New Town home Sunday afternoon while Martha’s husband was out hunting. One of the children managed to escape, call 911, and was not hurt.
The suicide hours later of a man described as a person of interest in the killings has prompted the FBI to release a statement saying they do not believe there is any further threat to the public. Mountrail County Sheriff Ken Halvorson said an unnamed New Town man in his 20s killed himself with a knife. “It happened in front of a deputy and a highway patrolman,” Halvorson said of the suicide.
Johnson and her grandchildren were not registered as enrolled tribal members, but the suicidal man was enrolled. Tex Hall, the Three Affiliated Tribes chairman, called the reservation shootings the “worst tragedy” he could remember.
“It’s a terrible loss, especially when young kids are involved. It’s a sad, sad day,” Hall said.
Slayings are relatively rare to this corner of the United States. FBI statistics show 24 murders and non-negligent manslaughters in the state of North Dakota last year.
Maddie Mendoza, who moved to the 2000-resident New Town from Arizona in August, said everyone was surprised by the killings. “This is a nice little quiet town, now this is happening,” Mendoza said.
Chris Enno, who is a neighbor to the Johnson family, says, “They must not have been in their right mind.”
With four killed on reservation the small community will be grieving this Thanksgiving week. The local school cancelled classes, and the community planned to hold a nighttime prayer vigil.