A man is dead and Lame Deer is on lockdown after a homicide in the Northern Cheyenne capital Tuesday.
The Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council has warned residents in the area to be vigilant, as the suspect in the shooting has not been apprehended. Multiple tribal, county and federal agencies are searching for the shooter, and all tribal programs in Lame Deer have been shut down.
“There is no information available right now on the victim, but the family has been notified,” said Angel Becker, the head of Northern Cheyenne Disaster and Emergency Services.
The Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council notified residents of the shooting on Wednesday via a social media announcement, specifying that a fatal shooting had occurred in Lame Deer the night prior. The council urged residents to be aware of their surroundings, as the shooter was still at large.
Becker told the Gazette the shooting occurred on the west side of town, and said the victim was a man. Along with Northern Cheyenne Bureau of Indian Affairs personnel, the FBI, Rosebud County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Highway Patrol have been called in to assist in the investigation. Law enforcement has identified a suspect but has not released his name, Becker said.
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RCSO released a statement later Wednesday announcing that a man was wanted in connection to the shooting. He was described as being about 31 years old, having long, brown hair standing 5 feet 10 inches tall. He weighs between 180 and 190 pounds and was last seen wearing a brown long-sleeved shirt, blue baseball cap and gray pants.
The sheriff’s office also warned residents in Ashland, specifically the St. Labre campus, to also be vigilant and avoid the area if possible.
“If you come across an individual that concerns you, please do not hesitate to call [the police] and avoid the individual,” the sheriff’s office wrote in its statement posted to social media.
Those who see anything suspicious on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation can contact tribal law enforcement directly at 406-477-6288.
Tribal leadership has been vying for a bolstered police force on the reservation for years. During that time, several confirmed homicides and suspicious deaths have brought both grief and renewed demands for the federal government to meet its obligations.
In May, recently elected Northern Cheyenne President Serena Wetherelt wrote a final request to the BIA for immediate action on adding manpower and expertise to the ranks policing the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The tribe had made similar requests in writing at least 10 times previously.
Wetherelt and the rest of the tribal administration demanded a fully staffed police force, with only two officers reportedly patrolling the nearly 445,000-acre reservation. Another need for the tribe is the reopening of the jail in Lame Deer. About half of all Northern Cheyenne Tribal Court detainees are currently being held in cells 1,000 miles away in Oklahoma, according to the tribe’s May letter addressed to BIA Assistant Secretary Bryan Newland.
“Local business owners have resorted to self-help measures, including one owner spending $100,000 on security to deal with crime on or near its premises. The Tribe itself has spent over $1,000,000 on its own security detail to attempt to bridge the gaps in BIA's service. Without your action on our reasonable requests, the safety, health and welfare of those within our Reservation remain at risk,” Wetherelt wrote.