FARGO – Cellphone users in the region might be left wondering what a Thursday, Jan. 18, alert means.
Authorities issued a “blue alert” shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday telling residents to check local news outlets for more information.
A blue alert is activated when a suspect is at large after killing or seriously injuring a law enforcement officer, or when an officer has been abducted or is missing.
North Dakota’s blue alert system went live in May 2015, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced at the time, and was meant to quickly notify the public about incidents involving law enforcement officers.
On Thursday, the alert was issued for help finding 22-year-old Ulises John Carlo Villalobos Alvarado. Bismarck police said the man tried to run over a police officer, who subsequently fired at the vehicle.
This happened about 10:55 a.m., and the suspect fled in the vehicle, which was later found abandoned, authorities said. The police officer is reportedly unharmed.
The man was found later Thursday night in Brookings in southeast South Dakota.
Deputy Chief Joe Anderson of the Fargo Police Department said it doesn’t take long for someone to travel from Bismarck to Fargo and that people were alerted here because it’s a statewide notification system, like Amber Alert.
Bismarck police said on their Facebook page that Thursday’s blue alert is the first time one has been issued in North Dakota. “So it’s a learning process for everyone,” the post said.
The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services operates the blue alert system. “The purpose is to establish a quick response that an individual has threatened a law enforcement officer,” Anderson said. “It’s more of an education piece so people are aware.”