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Seven people in custody after standoff on Red Lake Reservation

Law enforcement officials and bystanders gather on Highway 40 on the Red Lake Indian Reservation on Friday morning after reports of shots fired on the reservation. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office and Headwaters SWAT, are assisting Red Lake authorities at the incident scene, according to Beltrami County officials. (Monte Draper / Bemidji Pioneer)

REDBY, Minn. -- Seven people are in custody after a nearly 10-hour standoff that began with reports of gunfire Friday on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, the Headwaters SWAT team and the FBI, assisted Red Lake authorities in apprehending the seven suspects, who remained in a residence near the town of Redby for most of Friday.

The standoff began when several Red Lake Tribal Police officers came under gunfire while responding to an early morning call of shots fired at a residence. One officer was hit by a piece of shrapnel, but the shrapnel struck him in the vest and the officer was unhurt, a release from the Red Lake Tribal Police said.

Five suspects surrendered after being coaxed out by authorities, and the remaining two were apprehended only after a SWAT team fired tear gas into the residence, the release said.

The standoff ended at about 3:30 p.m., according to officials. The names of the people involved and any pending charges will be released later, the release said.

Red Lake Public Safety Director Bill Brunelle said it is yet to be determined whether the suspects fired at the officers intentionally or whether they were shooting randomly. It is also unclear whether any of the seven in custody were held in the house against their will, although it appeared all were in the house voluntarily, Brunelle said. The suspects were not injured, he said. Weapons were recovered from the residence.

Red Lake police responded at 5:17 a.m. to a report of shots fired near the same residence where, 25 minutes earlier, they had responded to a report of an intoxicated person, but no individual was located, the release said. The residence is on Indian Service Road 40 just southeast of Minnesota Highway 1 near Redby, officials said.

Three officers and a K9 unit responded to the second call. They knocked on the door and no one answered, but soon after, eight to nine rounds of what officials believed to be semi-automatic or automatic gunfire were shot in their direction and officers were pinned down, the release said. One officer who had taken cover behind an unoccupied pickup truck was hit by a bullet fragment, but the shrapnel struck in his bulletproof vest and he was not seriously hurt. The pickup was also hit, and rounds were fired through the house, according to the release.

Officers called for backup and eventually secured a perimeter and rescued the pinned-down officers without additional shots fired. They then established communications with those in the house, and it was determined that seven people were inside, some of whom believed to be armed.

"Throughout the day, law enforcement officials continued communications to get the occupants out of the residence and eventually, three males, age(s) 24, 35 and 44 and two females, ages 26 and 32, were coaxed out the residence unharmed," the release said.

However, two men ages 42 and 64 remained in the house and at 3:30 p.m. Red Lake officers and SWAT team members fired tear gas into the residence. The two men exited the house and were apprehended "without incident" by law enforcement, Brunelle said.

Agencies assisting the tribal police included the Minnesota State Patrol, the Headwaters SWAT team, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Headwaters Safe Trails Task Force, the release said.

The incident remains under investigation by the FBI and Red Lake police, the release said. Any possible charges will be determined by the U.S. Attorney's Office and Red Lake tribal courts.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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