Man killed in Casselton shooting broke into woman's apartment despite restraining order, sheriff says
Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner identified 58-year-old Randell Ray Burton as the man who was killed Monday at 15568 37th St. SE. Edwin Charles Kester Jr., 54, was at the apartment because a woman, who feared Burton would come after her, wanted to sleep safely.
CASSELTON, N.D. — A Fargo man who was fatally shot early Monday morning, Oct. 18, in a Casselton residence broke into the home where he had threatened to kill his girlfriend a week earlier, according to court documents and law enforcement.
Randell Ray Burton, 58, was identified as the man who was killed Monday at 15568 37th St. SE., Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner said.
Edwin Charles Kester Jr., 54, called 911 to report that he shot Burton at the apartment, Jahner said during a Tuesday news conference.
The address of the shooting matches Club 94, a bar and grill just north of Interstate 94. Though the apartment was connected to the bar, Club 94 bar was not involved in the shooting, Jahner said.
Burton broke into the home moments before Kester shot him with a revolver, Jahner said. The apartment belonged to a woman who shared an “on again, off again” relationship with Burton, according to court documents that detailed domestic violence and terrorizing charges against Burton.
The charges stemmed from an Oct. 14 call for an 11:25 p.m. disturbance to the same residence. The woman told investigators she and Burton were arguing over her owing him $200 for a water pump when he grabbed and pinned her against a wall, according to a criminal complaint.
Burton then forced her through a back door into the parking lot, where he threw her to the ground and threatened to kill her, the complaint alleged. He also threatened to shoot a man who tried to intervene, the complaint said.
The woman, who declined medical attention, also told investigators she and Burton were at a bar in West Fargo when she says he suggested he knew people who can kill her, according to the court document. It doesn't appear he faced charges for that incident, and it's unclear when it happened.
Burton pleaded guilty to terrorizing, simple assault, disorderly conduct and violation of a restraining order in the past for unrelated cases.
He pleaded not guilty to the domestic violence charge, a misdemeanor, in the Oct. 14 case when he appeared Friday, Oct. 15, in Cass County District Court. He did not enter a plea to the felony charge of terrorizing. Bond was set at $10,000, but he was released from jail after posting 10% in cash, Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick said.
Burton signed a restraining order that demanded he not have contact with the woman.
Still, he broke through two doors before 2 a.m. Monday to the woman’s apartment and headed straight toward her room, Jahner said. That's when Kester shot Burton, Jahner said.
The woman had changed the locks and spent time with friends, noting she feared Burton would come after her, according to the sheriff. Kester was at the apartment because the woman asked him to be there so she could get some sleep, Jahner said.
"When this incident occurred, the female stated that she had friends over to the bar so that she would not be alone," Jahner said.
Burton died after being taken to a hospital.
Other than a folding knife, no weapons were found on Burton's person, investigators said. Kester and the woman were not injured, the sheriff said.
It’s unclear how many times Kester fired the handgun, a coroner said. Kester was detained for about 10 hours while investigators processed the scene, the sheriff said. He was released after investigators determined he was not a danger to the public, Jahner said.
There wasn't enough evidence or probable cause to arrest Kester for a crime, the sheriff said. While it seems Kester was protecting the woman, Burdick said he isn’t ruling out charges.
Jahner couldn’t say when the investigation would be completed, but investigators are expected to forward the case to prosecutors for review.
The Sheriff's Office was unaware prior to the incident that the woman feared Burton would come after her, Jahner said. If deputies were alerted, they would have patrolled the area more frequently, as well as taken other measures to protect the woman, he said.
Courts issue numerous restraining orders, Jahner and Burdick said. It is a tool to help protect victims, but not everyone follows them, the sheriff acknowledged.
"We all recognize that an order prohibiting contact is a piece of paper," Burdick said. "It's not a fence."
Bond was set in accordance to prosecutors' recommendations, Burdick added. Judicial officials make decisions based on the circumstances and information they have at the time, he said, adding he felt Burton's bond was appropriate at the time of his court appearance.
"This is something that almost never happens, but it doesn't mean it cannot happen," he said.
Janher said he understands people may need to defend themselves if there is not enough time to call law enforcement. He did encourage those who need assistance to call deputies if they need help.
Anyone who is in an abusive relationship should seek help and try to get out of that relationship, he said. If they are in danger, he encouraged domestic violence victims to call law enforcement for assistance.
"We don't want anyone to get hurt," Jahner said.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-799-7233. Those who need assistance also can text START to 88788.