Staggering number of deaths by overdose and on-going investigations into law enforcement’s activities raises questions of public safety
by Timothy Charles Holmseth
Marcell Willis, 21, an active duty airman from the Grand Forks Air Force Base, entered the Wal Mart Supercenter in Grand Forks early Tuesday morning and shot two employees – killing one – missing one – then killing himself.
Gregory Weiland, 70, died of gunshot wounds suffered at the hands of Willis. Lisa Braun, 47, was injured but is recovering.
Nobody has any idea why Willis took the actions that he did.
Authorities believe he had no connection to his victims. Investigators are still in the preliminary stages and not sure what caused Willis to open fire.
Willis was known by those close to him to be mentally healthy. He was engaged to be married, appeared to be happy and showed no signs of behavior that would indicate he was unstable or homicidal.
The Grand Forks Police Department (GFPD) is requesting anybody with information to please contact the police. According to the Air Force, its Office of Special Investigations is working with police on the investigation.
The Air Force is not releasing any further details about Willis at this time.
The shooting at Wal Mart is not the only recent case to leave the public grappling with unknowns and oddities.
The region has been rocked with headline after headline regarding overdose deaths connected to an extremely dangerous drug – fentanyl. Twelve people examined by the Grand Forks Coroner’s Office died of fentanyl in 2014.
“The amount of [fentanyl] on the tip of a pen is often enough to kill you,” said Dr. Colleen Swank, chief medical executive, Altru.
Earlier in May, Brandon Hubbard, Portland, Oregon, allegedly told investigators that he is one of the largest powdered fentanyl dealers in the United States. It is not known if Hubbard is cooperating with law enforcement regarding others involved in the vast international drug trafficking network that was supplying Grand Forks.
But the ominous signs of something big happening were present since at least January, 2015.
On March 14, 2015, The Oregonian reported that federal authorities were investigating an international conspiracy to smuggle fentanyl into North America from a shipper in Shanghai, China, according to federal papers filed in Portland.
“A major U.S. probe of that dangerous pipeline, orchestrated by agents with Homeland Security Investigations and local police departments, appears to have begun on Jan. 3. That’s when an 18-year-old man named Bailey Henke died from a fentanyl overdose at an apartment in Grand Forks, North Dakota,” The Oregonian reported.
Many are becoming uncomfortable with the atmosphere.
On February 28, 2015, Jerad Braaten, a UND police officer, shot David James Elliott, an unarmed man, six times in the parking lot of Altru hospital near the Emergency Room entrance.
The shooting occurred after a bizarre series of mysterious interactions between Elliott and law enforcement across multiple counties.
Several GFPD officers were placed on leave following the Elliott shooting; pending an investigation by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).
According to GFPD Lt. Dwight Love, the officers were placed on leave for reasons including their “safety” – noting they are being questioned by the BCI.
The GFPD has not elaborated upon why the safety of police officers might be in jeopardy as the BCI conducts an investigation.
But there may be clues.
While the shooting of Elliott by a police officer is naturally controversial because of the fact the victim was un-armed, emerging facts regarding the minutes and hours leading up to the shooting indicate something sinister was underway that involved law enforcement officers.
Affidavits filed in the Elliott case show the GFPD is at odds with the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office (GFCSO) regarding the actions of deputies on the night David Elliott was stalked and shot.
The GFPD originally took an interest in Elliott after receiving a strange 911 call on February 27, 2015, at 10:40 p.m. from inside the Wells Fargo Bank, from someone reporting that a vehicle outside the bank appeared suspicious.
The GFPD has not stated the identity of the caller, or why the caller thought the vehicle was suspicious. Wells Fargo Bank in Grand Forks has a 24 Hour ATM machine. Jennifer Elliott reportedly said that police told her that her husband was at the ATM machine.
David Elliott was followed by police from the bank and then allegedly disobeyed a stop sign. He then, allegedly, and inexplicably, refused to stop for police and led them on a high speed chase.
At some point during the chase, David Elliott telephoned 911, which resulted in an ambulance being dispatched for him by Altru hospital.
According to Affidavits filed in the case, David Elliott told 911 he wasn’t going to stop on the roadside for the ambulance, but attempted to make it to the Altru main hospital Emergency Room where he was shot six times in his vehicle.
After David Elliott was shot – he was tazed.
The Affidavits show that GFSO deputies interacted with David Elliott at some point on the night in question, and there has been an effort to hide the facts and circumstances surrounding those interactions.
According to the Affidavit filed with the Court by GFPD officers, the GFSO deployed spike-strips to stop David Elliott at some point on the night in question; an action the GFPD makes sure to emphasize they played no role in.
In interesting contrast – the Affidavit filed by the GFSO deputies makes no mention whatsoever of the deputies deploying spike-strips at any point that night.
The GFSO officers also admit to following David Elliot down I-29; along with a North Dakota State Trooper; without their emergency lights activated.
GRAND FORKS COUNTY SHERIFF LIED TO REPORTERS DURING PRESS CONFERENCE
Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost lied to news reporters about the location of his deputies on the night in question.
REPORTER: “The Sheriff’s Department is here – I mean, were you in on this chase before it ever got to Grand Forks?”
Sheriff Rost: “A couple of my deputies. In town here, yes.
REPORTER: “You picked up on it when the chase was in Grand Forks?”
Sheriff’s Rost: “Correct”
REPORTER: “Can you say what was he being pursued for?”
Sheriff Rost: “Actually, the BCI is putting all this together. They have not finished the investigation yet. And they have more to do today. So when that’s complete I’m sure you’ll get more details.”
The Affidavit filed by the GFSO revealed Rost’s deputies were following David Elliott on I-29 near Manvel, North Dakota, which is 13 miles from Grand Forks.
It is clear Rost attempted to conceal the whereabouts and activities of his deputies on the night in question.
The involvement of East Grand Forks police Sgt. Aeisso Schrage, Minnesota Pine to Prairie Task Force, in matters involving child rape porn have been reported to the Office of the Minnesota State Auditor and Minnesota FBI.