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Sunday standoff: Two arrested for robbery, terrorizing after shots fired in west Grand Forks

A suspect emerges from an apartment complex Sunday afternoon on 39th Street North in Grand Forks. Photo: Andrew Haffner.

After a brief standoff that shut down a length of a city street, Grand Forks police arrested two young men now accused of armed robbery.

Joe Melvin, 19, and Fahad Hussein, 18, face initial charges of robbery and terrorizing for an incident that started in the middle of a warm, placid Sunday in a neighborhood on the western edge of Grand Forks and ended at an apartment building not far from UND campus.

A news release from the Grand Forks Police Department lays out a dangerous encounter.

At about 12:30 p.m., officers responded to a report of shots fired at a residence on the 500 block of Circle Drive West in the Park Manor Mobile Home Park. An early investigation cites the homeowner as telling police they’d heard noises in their residence. When they went to check their source, the resident discovered two male subjects inside the home.

The two men fled from the house upon seeing the homeowner, “possibly shooting rounds inside the residence” on their way out. They then allegedly fired two additional rounds at the home and the homeowner from outside the building before leaving the scene in a black car.

Officers quickly began the search for that vehicle and soon found it parked at an apartment building on the 1100 block of North 39th Street, about 2 miles to the east of the mobile home.

At that point, the Grand Forks Police Department, UND Police and the Grand Forks Sheriff’s Department blocked off a stretch of the road while determining if the alleged shooter was in one of the apartments. About three blocks of the street were eventually cordoned off by patrol cars.

Residents from neighboring buildings watched from front lawns. Some recorded on smartphones as officers wielding rifles took position around the apartment. Others just looked on, unsure of what was happening down the street.

Rachel Shurig was one of that latter group. She said she doesn’t usually come out to look when she hears commotion on the street, but something was off about that Sunday afternoon.

“I saw my neighbor yelling something about staying out of the doorway, and I said, ‘This is really getting weird,’” Shurig said.

After that went on for a while, she went outside to check on her cat and on the backyard of a different neighbor that she does work for. In doing that, Shurig almost walked unwittingly into the middle of a standoff.

“I looked to my left” -- to where an armed officer was waving at her to move away and get around her building -- “and thought I’d just take a few steps back,” she said, laughing at the suddenness of it.

A few other neighbors interacted with officers stationed with a view just around the corner of a set of next-door apartments. A man smoking a cigarette walked up to them to speak before wandering off. A family with a laundry basket approached cautiously and was turned away from using a washing machine inside the building of interest.

Time passed, the neighborhood waited and the officers shouted to those inside before Melvin and Hussein finally exited the apartment with their hands up, walking slowly to comply with orders given at gunpoint.

After the two men were secured, the street soon was reopened to traffic and the neighbors began to drift back to their homes. Many of those who had been watching didn’t seem too shocked. This kind of thing had happened before in the neighborhood, they said, and some have suspected that the area has been host to illicit drug activity.

Tyler Machovsky watched most of Sunday’s activity from atop a nearby curb.

“It’s unfortunate, it seems like it’s getting crazier and crazier,” Machovsky said of the city, noting the closeness of his neighborhood to the scene of last week’s unrelated double-stabbing. “Nothing surprises me anymore.”