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Suspects fatally shot in 2 separate Rolette County cases still unnamed

A Rolette County Sheriff's Department squad car sits outside Turtle Mountain Community College with a flag draped over the side and the flags at half-mast Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, during the funeral service for deputy Colt Allery. (Jesse Trelstad/Forum News Service)

ROLLA, N.D.—More than two weeks after the fact, authorities still have not named two suspected criminals shot and killed in separate cases days apart last month in Rolette County, including the man who killed a sheriff's deputy.

An intruder was killed during a break-in of a home in rural Rolette County on Jan. 22. The fatal home invasion came just four days after Colt Allery, a Rolette County deputy sheriff, was fatally shot after a vehicle chase followed by a shootout on Jan. 18.

Though authorities have not released the name of the suspect in the Allery shooting, news reports have identified him as Melvin DeLong, 28, of Belcourt.

Two other Rolette County sheriff's deputies have been placed on administrative leave in connection with the Allery shooting, along with a Rolla police officer. The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.

In the break-in, six people, including children, were in a home 2 miles outside of Rolla when they heard someone trying to break in, the sheriff's office has said. The intruder was then shot and killed.

Sheriff Gerald Medrud of Rolette County said last week that he could not provide the intruder's name, and referred questions to Ryan Thompson, the Rolette County state's attorney, or the BCI, which is helping with the investigation.

"I haven't worked the case and do not have any facts," Medrud said. "You need to check the other agencies."

Multiple calls over several days last week left for Thompson, at his office and residence, seeking the name of the intruder were not answered. Nor did Thompson immediately respond to an email sent Friday afternoon asking him to provide the name or cite his legal justification for withholding the name.

Liz Brocker, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, which oversees the BCI, said any records the agency might have containing the intruder's name or the name of the suspect who shot Allery would relate to an ongoing investigation and therefore would be exempt from North Dakota's open records law.

Also, she added, the BCI's role is that of an assisting agency, and the requesting agency maintains jurisdiction.

"We cannot speak for or on behalf of the local law enforcement agency or state's attorneys," she said.

North Dakota has a new law protecting the rights of crime victims, including a privacy right. Voters passed Marcy's Law in the November election, and the law took effect Dec. 1.

Law enforcement officials have been, in some cases, unsure what information can be released under the law's privacy provision, which allows victims or their families to prevent the release of information identifying them.

Whether a criminal suspect who is shot could be construed as a victim wasn't addressed in the sole advisory opinion the attorney general's office has released on how to interpret Marsy's Law.

Lacee Anderson, a Bismarck lawyer and Marsy's Law advocate, has said the law does not apply to information about crimes that is routinely made public, an interpretation shared by Erik Johnson the Fargo city attorney.

"As terms of the standard practice of law enforcement of disclosing basic elements of crime and the location, I don't think there's any change in that," Johnson told The Forum in early December.

Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined the reporting staff of The Forum in 1985. He can be reached by calling 701-241-5522. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com

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