Grand Forks man fired shots into ground after walking into an alleged burglary in progress

GRAND FORKS — A man here arrived to work Friday morning, Aug. 23, thinking it was going to be a routine day, but it nearly turned deadly after police say he interrupted a burglary and defended himself by pulling a gun and shooting it at intruders.

When the employee of Tri-State Paving came into work he wasn't alone, according to the Grand Forks Police Department, which said he quickly realized it wasn't a co-worker, but two men trying to steal some dirt bikes.

Grand Forks Police Lt. Brett Johnson relayed the employee's account of what happened.

"(It) sounded to me like he confronted them from somewhat of a distance, and then he felt like they were closing the distance on him," Johnson said.

The employee told police the men appeared to have a knife or club in their hands, so the employee pulled out a gun and fired six shots into the ground.


"He thought, maybe, that they were armed, and he was concerned that he was going to be assaulted, so he took the actions that he did," Lt. Johnson said.

Police said the employee had a concealed carry permit for his gun, but even so, a shooter can face other legal issues in a situation like Friday's.

"Any time that you discharge a firearm you have to be aware that could potentially cause serious bodily injury or death to somebody else," Johnson said. "You have to make sure you are using it appropriately."

Johnson said he could not specifically comment on the employee's decision to pull out his gun in the incident as it is still under investigation. North Dakota lawmakers voted against a full-fledged "stand your ground" bill earlier this year, but in some cases, people using guns to protect themselves have legal protection.

"People are allowed to use deadly force against somebody else to protect themselves, or somebody else, from death or serious bodily injury," Johnson said. "In a case where you think that you're going to be killed or seriously injured, you can use a gun against somebody else to protect yourself."

A description of the suspects:

  • Two African American men, both about 6 feet tall
  • One of the suspects had three dreadlocks over his right eye and was wearing a black sweatshirt
  • The other suspect had a teal or turquoise sweatshirt
  • They got into a dark-colored car and went north

Anyone with information on the attempted burglary is asked to call the Grand Forks Police Department.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
What To Read Next
Get Local