NEW TOWN - A town still reeling from a quadruple homicide tragedy last month experienced another trouble throughout Wednesday: a barricaded individual in a New Town home who is believed to be armed.
The situation on North Eighth Street at its intersection with East Central Avenue began at least before 5 a.m., Wednesday which is when area schools were alerted to the situation, and was still unresolved by evening.
Armed police and emergency vehicles were stationed outside the home, and other police vehicles blocked traffic on nearby streets.
Due to the ongoing threat involved at this New Town house, seen from a block down East Central Avenue, the area was surrounded by police who told anyone who approached to leave.
"I'm going to need you to get back into your car, sir," said a law enforcement agent who drove up in his truck from the scene to an individual. "We have a high-powered rifle here."
The rifle may be hearsay, as FBI spokesman Kyle Loven, of the Minneapolis field office, said he has no details on what is going on inside the home. That office includes North Dakota.
"There is an individual in a barricade situation in a residence," Loven said, which is the official summary of the incident. "I'm not going to confirm weapons or what he may or may not have inside the house."
New Town schools locked down due to standoff
New Town schools were in lockdown on Wednesday after reports of an armed standoff three blocks from the school that began Wednesday morning.
Supt. Marc Bluestone said doors were locked and monitors were stationed at the doors to control who left and entered the building. About 30 parents had decided to pick up their children and take them home for the day as of late Wednesday morning, though classes remained in session.
Bluestone said he was in close contact with police, who kept him up to date on the threat level to the school. Bluestone said he felt the incident was far enough away so it was not an immediate threat to the school, but put the school on lockdown as a precautionary measure.
Bluestone said parents were likely nervous because of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last Friday as well as the fatal shooting of three students and their grandmother in New Town last month.
Bluestone said he would confer with police and decide whether to cancel after-school activities on Wednesday afternoon and also decide whether the school would continue on lockdown today.
The school district has a school resource officer who was also checking in regularly, though Bluestone said he had been "detailed" and was working at the scene of the standoff.
- Andrea Johnson
The lack of information available in a town already frustrated with too many questions regarding the murder that took place in a home just a few blocks away from this standoff has taken to rumors.
In at least one instance a side road was blocked by area residents talking with each other through the windows of their vehicles Wednesday afternoon. Rumors are unsubstantiated but the dominant one was that there may be hostages in the building.
"Law enforcement has not been able to get inside the residence," Loven said. "We have had no reports of hostages."
Local police on the scene, who were uncomfortable divulging any information, did confirm that the situation was ongoing by late afternoon. Their discomfort was also an official position.
New Town Police Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs both confirmed that by early afternoon the situation was out of their hands and that it would be handled at the federal level.
"We are working with our state and local partners," Loven said. There were no FBI agents at the scene Wednesday afternoon, but there was an armored Minot Police Department SWAT vehicle, with its onboard battering ram deployed but unused before the vehicle left the area in mid-afternoon.
"When you have a high risk situation like this, when you have a subject who is uncooperative, precautions are taken," said Loven of why Minot Police Department emergency vehicles were in town, about an hour and a half away from Minot along N.D. Highway 23. There is a need to pool resources when they may be unavailable in other jurisdictions. "Most of the time those things are not necessary and that's a good thing, obviously, but precautions are taken nonetheless."
Area facilities such as the Fort Berthold Community College in New Town and the Three Affiliated Tribes Administration Building, west of New Town, closed for the day.
The FBI has decided not to issue any new information until at least this morning regardless as to whether the situation is resolved by Wednesday night.