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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of North Dakota

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Investigation Results in Finding that Shooter Acted in Self-defense

BISMARCK- U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have concluded the investigation into the shooting death of Joel Sherman in Belcourt, N.D., on Nov. 27, 2013. The investigation determined that homicide charges are not appropriate in this matter because the individual who shot Mr. Sherman acted in self-defense.

U.S. Attorney Purdon stated, “Federal law enforcement has concluded its investigation into the shooting death of Joel Sherman. Many, many hours and law enforcement resources were dedicated to this investigation in order to determine exactly what occurred and to ensure that no additional threat to the community existed. At the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we are committed, when appropriate, to communicating the results of investigations into serious incidents like this one to the communities we serve, whether criminal charges are filed or not, so that those communities can be assured that these incidents have been taken seriously and fully investigated by federal law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

The investigation revealed that, throughout the day of Nov. 26, 2013, Joel Sherman had made several statements and threats to the effect that he had a gun and was going to kill a specific individual. The individual Mr. Sherman identified as being the person he was going to kill was made aware of Mr. Sherman’s statements and threats. In the early morning hours of Nov. 27, 2013, Mr. Sherman arrived armed with a pistol at a residence in Eagle View Housing on the Turtle Mountain Reservation, where the individual he had been threatening to shoot was located and confronted. The two men argued in the residence and then exited the residence and continued the argument. The evidence uncovered in the investigation, including bullet casing locations, bullet holes, and sworn statements from several witnesses present at the scene, establishes that Mr. Sherman first fired several rounds from his pistol at the other individual and that the individual then returned fire. The return fire hit Mr. Sherman, resulting in his death.

Updated January 29, 2015