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Five charged in weekend assault on Mayville State campus; one charged with attempted murder

According to court documents, witnesses saw several men punching the victim, hitting him with a baseball bat, and hitting him with a car outside of Berg Hall, a student dormitory, on Jan. 9.

police lights FSA

MAYVILLE – Five people have been charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault after a man was brutally assaulted on the Mayville State campus this week. One of the defendants, 37-year-old Norberto Zapata Jr., of Portland, N.D., also has been charged with attempted murder.

According to court documents, witnesses saw several men punching the victim, hitting him with a baseball bat, and hitting him with a car outside of Berg Hall, a student dormitory, on Jan. 9.

Speaking with police, the victim said he knew only one of his alleged assailants, a juvenile identified in court documents only by his initials. The victim had difficulty recalling the order in which the events took place, and doctors worried he had a concussion, documents state.

Mayville State President Brian Van Horn was not available for comment on Friday. However, the university shared a campus message that was sent Friday morning. The note said that the altercation involved a student and non-Mayville State individuals outside the residence hall.

“The incident has been mitigated and to our knowledge there is no current risk to the campus community at this time,” the note read.

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A similar message was sent earlier in the week.

Mayville State says it is continuing to work with Traill County on the investigation. A no-trespass order is in place for the off-campus individuals and the Traill County Sheriff’s Department has increased its patrolling on the campus, with plans to continue to do so on an ongoing basis.

“Members of the Mayville State campus community have a number of resources available to support them should there be a need,” the note said. “These include access to law enforcement professionals, security staff, counseling services, and health services.”

Video surveillance shows four vehicles pull into the Berg Hall parking lot just after 3 a.m., according to documents. Zapata Jr. allegedly can be seen in the video stabbing the victim in the inner thigh and head with a screwdriver, while three other men – Omar Zapata Rodriguez, 35, Felipe Zapata, 32, and the unidentified juvenile – allegedly held him down. The four men then took turns punching the victim, according to documents.

Throughout the assault, seven people stood by and watched, including Oliver Barker, 20, and Norberto Zapata Sr., 55, according to the report.

The alleged assailants and bystanders then appeared to walk back to their vehicles. The victim appeared to approach a Cadillac Escalade driven by Zapata Sr. and punch out the driver’s window, documents state, and Zapata Sr. chased the victim.

Barker then retrieved a baseball bat from his car and attempted to strike the victim, but the victim was able to get the baseball bat away from Barker, documents state.

Zapata Jr. then struck the victim with a GMC Yukon two times, according to documents – first by driving into the yard of Berg Hall, where the victim was fighting with Barker over the baseball bat, and a second time when the victim was standing in the middle of the road.

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Documents state that blood was found on the front of the GMC. After that, surveillance allegedly shows all vehicles leaving the scene, and the victim was transported to Sanford Mayville by ambulance.

Zapata Jr. has been charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, aggravated assault, and two counts of reckless endangerment. If convicted of attempted murder, the most serious of the charges, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Each additional charge carries a separate maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Felipe Zapata and Rodriguez each have been charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, accomplice to aggravated assault, and misdemeanor assault. The conspiracy and accomplice charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Barker has been charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and misdemeanor attempted assault. If convicted of the conspiracy charge, he could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Zapata Sr. has also been charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. Like the other defendants, he could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

No court date has yet been set in the case.

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.


For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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