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Bickle

Justin Bickle

WILLISTON, N.D. — The McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office says an investigation into a shooting resulted in an arrest for possession of child pornography.

Justin Bickle, 29, of Plevna, Mont., was charged Wednesday, March 28, with 11 counts of possession of child pornography, all class C felonies, as well as one count of giving false information to law enforcement. He was being held in the McKenzie County jail Wednesday afternoon on $1 million bond.

Police first spoke with Bickle early on March 22 after a report of a shooting near North Main Street and 30th Avenue in Watford City, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Northwest District Court Wednesday. Bickle, who had been shot, drove himself to the McKenzie County Hospital before being taken to Trinity Hospital in Minot for treatment.

A detective seized a cellphone Bickle had with him because police said it had been used to post information about the shooting to social media. A search of that phone turned up dozens of recently deleted images, including nearly 50 that showed pubescent to prepubescent girls in sexual positions or situations, according to court documents.

“Of the remaining 167 photos, some of the females may be under 18, but it was not certain if they were or not,” Deputy Matthew Watkins wrote in the affidavit of probable cause.

An examination of the phone turned up other child pornography, but Watkins wrote those were not searched in detail. He also wrote that police were planning to obtain search warrants for two other phones Bickle had, as well as a thumb drive found in Bickle’s truck.

Police also claim Bickle had been messaging a woman with two young daughters and suggested the girls model in provocative poses that would be posted on the internet.

“I found this very alarming as it shows Bickle may be producing some child pornography and may be victimizing young females in the area,” Watkins wrote in charging documents. “The photos found on his phone and this information leads me to believe Bickle is a child sex predator and may harm others if released.”

Watkins also wrote there is apparently a criminal case open against Bickle in Montana where he is accused of using the internet to solicit a 14-year-old girl. Details of that case were not available in the affidavit of probable cause.

Police said when Bickle was interviewed earlier this week, he lied about possessing a firearm, about sending text messages that he was “going to get into a shootout” and about messages he sent through Facebook.

“Bickle denied possessing the child pornography even after he was told the images were found intermixed with his ‘selfies,’” Watkins wrote in the affidavit of probable cause. “Bickle was not forthcoming with information and lied throughout the interview.”

Details of the original shooting, including the motivation and who else might have been involved, were not clear from court documents.

Bickle is due back in court May 24 for a preliminary hearing.

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