Grand Forks attempted murder suspect still at large
Omar Agustin Martinez, 25, is charged with Class A attempted murder and Class C reckless endangerment. Police haven’t located Martinez as of Wednesday afternoon, May 24.
GRAND FORKS — A man accused of attempted murder in Grand Forks is still missing four days after allegedly shooting at an occupied car, but court documents revealed new details about the vehicle and suspected weapon used in the incident.
Omar Agustin Martinez, 25, is charged with Class A attempted murder and Class C reckless endangerment. Police haven’t located Martinez as of Wednesday afternoon, May 24, but they believe he may return to Texas, where he is originally from.
Martinez is accused of shooting at 36-year-old Rey Sosa’s vehicle on Sunday morning, May 21. Sosa and his child were in the front passenger seat during the incident, but neither were injured.
Law enforcement has advised the public not to approach Martinez if they see him, and to contact the police as soon as possible.
“I can’t say there is no concern to the public, but this does appear to be a targeted incident between the involved parties,” Stein wrote in an email to the Herald on Tuesday, May 23.
While Martinez’s whereabouts remain unknown, court documents filed on Tuesday show his vehicle and suspected weapon were recovered the same day of the incident.
Sosa told police “his ex-girlfriend (Abilene Corona) was Martinez’s current girlfriend and Martinez was of the belief that (Sosa) was involved with his girlfriend again behind his back,” the affidavit said.
Around 2 a.m. on May 21, Martinez allegedly got into a physical altercation with Sosa and was arrested for disorderly conduct. Following his release hours later, Martinez pursued Sosa in a maroon 2014 Cadillac ATS, the affidavit said.
Corona, who was a passenger, said Martinez shot at Sosa’s vehicle with a “black rifle style firearm,” the affidavit said.
Martinez fired a round that struck just behind the front driver’s door of Sosa’s vehicle, and was later found lodged in the driver’s seat, the affidavit said.
Martinez’s Cadillac was found parked and unoccupied in East Grand Forks the same day.
Also that day, the Grand Forks Police Department located a black Toyota pickup — a vehicle Martinez was known to drive in the past. Officers observed the male driver, who matched Martinez’s physical description, and stopped the vehicle. Its occupant was identified as David Martinez, Martinez’s brother, the affidavit said.
Police recovered “a semi-automatic AR-15 style rifle” from the pickup, which Corona confirmed was the weapon Martinez used to fire at Sosa’s vehicle, the affidavit said.
According to an affidavit in the case, Martinez was residing at an apartment in north Grand Forks. After a warrant was issued for Martinez’s arrest, law enforcement began surveilling the residence.
Detective Nick Fugazzi, from the GFPD, saw a man leaving the unit around 11:15 a.m. on Monday, May 22. The man stood outside the door speaking on the phone for a time, before returning inside, the affidavit said.
Fugazzi previously viewed photographs of Martinez and felt confident it was him. A SWAT team eventually entered the residence, though, and determined Martinez wasn’t there.
On Monday afternoon, numerous Grand Forks residents received an emergency alert urging those near North 39th Street to “shelter in place”, and another alert informing them the “shelter in place” order had been lifted.
The messages were wireless emergency alerts (WEA), according to Shannon LaHaise, Grand Forks Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) director. To send a WEA, the PSAP team draws on an area of the map, identifying the region that will be affected by a “shelter in place” order, or another event of that nature.
In the comments of a GFPD Facebook post regarding the alert, some residents said they live in the area but didn’t receive an alert, while others said they don’t live in the area and still received an alert.
“The hard thing with that is … (the alert) goes to the towers that cover that area, and because we’re in town and there’s multiple towers … you may have gotten it if you were downtown, you may have gotten it if you lived right there,” LaHaise said. “You may have even gotten it if you were on the south end of town. ... Whereas, if you’re out in a rural area, you may only get it as you get close to that area.”
The messages were sent through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), which does not require enrollment and sends mobile, TV and radio alerts. When IPAWS alerts are sent by WEA, they pop up on individuals’ cell phones similarly to Amber and Silver alerts.
PSAP also uses CodeRED, which sends alerts to residents who have signed up for them. Alerts can be sent by phone call, text message, email and social media. Information on how to enroll is available at grandforksgov.com.
“Sometimes the IPAWS is better because you can reach a broader number of people,” LaHaise said.
LaHaise said PSAP is cautious and tries to keep in mind that people may not pay as much attention to alerts if they receive them frequently.
“Just like when we blow the sirens, you know, we try and make sure that it’s necessary … for everybody’s safety, because we don’t want to keep sending alerts and then they turn out to be nothing,” LaHaise said. “We want to make sure that they’re valid and prudent so that people understand it is for their safety, and they need to be cautious.”
Emergency alerts can only use 90 characters through IPAWS, making it challenging to relay information to residents.
“We have to say … who we are, what we expect you to do, what’s going on. And so it does get challenging to create a message in 90 characters,” LaHaise said.
Social media is also used to keep the public informed about ongoing emergency situations.
When the Grand Forks Police Department requested that PSAP issue an alert, the police also posted about the situation on Facebook.
“I think they did a really good job at sharing that information on social media to kind of keep people updated,” LaHaise said.