Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bureau of Indian Affairs Chief of Police Jose Figueroa speaks to an audience of more than 100 at Crow Agency’s Multipurpose Building on the subjects of reservation law enforcement and the extradition of criminals.In this Saturday, Aug. 5 photo, crime scene tape surrounds a property in Lodge Grass. By early Tuesday, the site had burned to the ground.

Shooting in Lodge Grass residence leaves 3 dead, 2 injured

Site of incident burns down Tuesday morning
An emergency curfew was put into place on the Crow Reservation late Friday evening following the deaths of three tribal members at a shooting in Lodge Grass related to methamphetamine and gang activity. The people killed were Frank Nomee Jr., 27; his wife Denise Stewart Nomee, 26; and Nehemiah Brokenrope, 30. In addition to the fatalities, two were injured in the shooting.
 
According to a statement by the Crow Tribal Executive Branch, the curfew is in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. until further notice.
 
The statement went on to say that all vehicles traveling on roadways within the exterior boundaries of the reservation after 9 p.m. are subject to being stopped, and all occupants are ordered to present valid identification upon law enforcement request.
 
A press release from Travis Burrows, FBI Senior Supervisory Resident Agent in Billings, states the incident occurred at about 4 p.m. in a house on the 200 block of North Helen Street. None of those who died had lived in the residence – Broken Rope and Frank were residents of Lodge Grass, and Denise lived in Crow Agency.
 
By 1:24 a.m. Tuesday, the site was destroyed by a fire. Burrows could not say whether the blaze was related to the shooting.
 
“They entered the house where an altercation took place which resulted in an exchange of gunfire,” Burrows wrote. “Broken Rope and [Frank] were taken to the Indian Health Services Hospital at Crow Agency and died from their wounds. [Denise] was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital [in Billings] and died as a result of her wounds.”
 
Of the two people injured, Burrows wrote, one remains hospitalized.
 
During a public safety meeting late Monday morning at Crow Agency’s Multipurpose Building, Bureau of Indian Affairs Chief of Police Jose Figueroa said he had a “good message” for Crow Chairman Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid.
 
A memorandum of understanding is ready for Not Afraid’s signature, he said, regarding the extradition of people charged with drug-related crimes. Grandmothers shouldn’t have to be locked in their bedrooms, he continued, out of fear from drug-using relatives.
 
Not Afraid, in the same meeting, said he would be diverting some Executive Branch funding into the tribe’s Drug Task Force.
 
“We’re looking at easily $100,000-plus for one [officer],” he said. “That’s just the tip of the iceberg because the real battle is in the rehab.”
 
A Monday media release from the Crow Legislative Branch expressed their “most heartfelt condolences and prayers to the many tribal members affected by this tragedy.” It also states that district senators held a special session where they unanimously passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency in the tribe. In the resolution, they request law enforcement support from the U.S. Department of Interior, the BIA, U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines, the State of Montana and Crow Executive Branch in order to fight violence and drugs on the Crow Reservation.
 
Law enforcement on the reservation hasn’t recovered since October 2013, the media release continues, when nine BIA officers left Crow Agency. There are now nine officers to cover the reservation’s 2.2 million acres and six districts, though the release states “Crow Agency is in dire need of a minimum of 20.”
 
“Of the nine Bureau of Indian Affairs officers at any one time,” the release states, “only three officers are on duty for the entire reservation.”
 
This is the second triple homicide to hit the town of around 440 people since October 2011, when a 22-year-old Sheldon Bernard Chase gunned down his grandmother, cousin and cousin’s boyfriend at their rural home.
 
 “Drugs have a devastating affect on our communities, and yesterday’s incident is a reminder of that,” the Executive Branch release states.
 
The shooting is under investigation by the BIA and the FBI.
 
“Several witnesses have been interviewed,” Burrows wrote, “and have provided statements to investigators.”
 
No arrests have been made, though a Be On the Look-Out (BOLO) alert was sent to law enforcement naming Roderick Plentyhawk, 32, as a suspect in the incident.
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