FARGO — Prosecutors on Monday, June 10, filed murder charges against two men suspected of fatally shooting Jason "Jay" Allen Halvorson during an early morning confrontation.
Kareem Lee Byrd Jr., 19, and Charles Edward Harris III, 30, both of Fargo, each face one count of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Halvorson.
Halvorson, 38, was shot about 1 a.m. Friday, June 7, next to his food truck, Texas Q BBQ and Catering, in the parking lot of the former Sahr's Sudden Service station at 601 4th St. N., Fargo police said.
According to documents filed in Cass County District Court on Monday:
Fargo police responded to gunshots in the vicinity of the former service station about 1 a.m. and found Halvorson, who appeared to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Medics took Halvorson by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center, where he died at about 2:10 a.m.
Officers arriving at the scene of the shooting observed a vehicle leaving the area with several occupants, including a man matching the description of a suspect in the shooting. The vehicle was stopped, and two occupants were identified as suspects.
Two guns were found in the vehicle, including a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and a .22-caliber revolver. An autopsy showed Halvorson was struck by 9 mm and .22-caliber bullets.
Byrd, who was one of the men found in the vehicle, told police he and Harris were involved in a verbal confrontation with Halvorson, after which he and Harris retrieved guns from a nearby location and returned to confront Halvorson. What prompted the initial confrontation was unclear.
Byrd said he and Harris fired multiple rounds at Halvorson before fleeing the area. Witnesses told police that immediately after hearing gunfire they saw two black males running from the area.
When police interviewed Harris, he said he was not directly involved in the shooting but said Byrd had gone for a walk and when he returned Byrd said he had shot someone "around the corner."
Harris told police he believed the guns recovered in the vehicle were likely the guns used in the shooting. Harris continued to deny involvement in the shooting after acknowledging that the guns found were his and that the guns had been stored in his apartment, which is near the scene of the shooting, court documents stated.
After they talked to investigators, Byrd and Harris were arrested and taken to the Cass County Jail.
The two men appeared in court Monday afternoon via closed-circuit TV. Each defendant's bail amount was set at $2 million, cash only.
Prosecutor Tracy Peters requested that bail amount, saying the killing "appears to be a random act of violence" and that Byrd and Harris pose a public risk. The prosecution said Harris' criminal history included an aggravated assault conviction from 2010.
Tim Jones, who lives near the former service station where the shooting happened, told The Forum on Friday morning that he was walking his dog about 1 a.m. that day when he encountered two men walking toward him on the sidewalk.
Jones said the men muttered a greeting as they passed by him and moments later he heard about eight gunshots.
He said that as he looked toward the parking lot of the former service station, he saw a man run a few steps before falling to his hands and knees while calling: "Help me! Help me!"
Jones said the two men, who moments earlier had passed him on the sidewalk, ran away as he moved toward the victim, who by then was lying face down on the ground.
Jones said police arrived quickly, and medics took the victim to the hospital. "I found out about 30 minutes later that he had passed away," Jones said.
Jones said he didn't know the victim, but had seen him before at the food truck parked in the lot of the former service station, which was not far from the spot where he said the victim was shot.
Before Monday's court hearing, some of Halvorson’s relatives stopped by the shooting scene to mourn and take photos of flowers left in remembrance. They read a card placed inside a lantern from a friend of Halvorson’s and observed the parking lot where his life was taken.
A GoFundMe site has been set up to help with funeral and memorial costs. The campaign has raised over $4,000 in two days.
Halvorson's cousins, Matthew Christenson and Andrew Brammer, described Halvorson in the online campaign as "extremely kind, hard-working, selfless, passionate in everything he did and brought joy to everyone around him."
A memorial service at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, 215 7th St. S. in Fargo, is planned for 10 a.m. Thursday, June 13, with visitation starting at 9 a.m.