TOWNER COUNTY, N.D. — Residents in rural northeast North Dakota are shaken after a murder-suicide at a nearby farm left four people dead on Monday, Aug. 29.
Several residents we spoke to didn’t want to go on the record about the incident as they’re still wrapping their minds around it but said their thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of those involved. Local farmers are coming together to help harvest the fields owned by those involved in the incident.
Towner County Sheriff Andy Hillier said his department has never had to deal with anything like this before.
“This is the first,” said Hillier, who has been with the sheriff’s office since 2004.
The shooting happened on a farm west of Maza, North Dakota, on Monday, Aug. 29.
Deputies were dispatched around 6 p.m. Monday to a wheat field on the 6100 block of 66th Street Northeast for a report of four unresponsive individuals. Upon arrival, authorities located four bodies with gunshot wounds, the department said in a news release Tuesday.
The release said evidence from the scene indicates the incident was a murder-suicide. A firearm was located in the possession of one of the bodies. Hillier told Forum News Service that it is believed the four worked together.
Names of those involved are being withheld, pending notification of next of kin. The investigation is ongoing and additional information will be released at a later time, the release said.
The motive behind the shooting is still under investigation, Hillier said.
Farm equipment — some with bullet holes — remained on the scene during the day, but Hillier said all evidence has been processed and it’ll be up to the family to decide what to do with the equipment next.
“It’s a very large scene,” he said.
The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and other local law enforcement agencies assisted deputies from Towner County in the investigation. There is no known threat to the public, Hillier said.
On Monday evening, the Towner County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook — at approximately 8:30 — that deputies and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation were investigating a crime scene.
Maza, North Dakota, was a tiny town in southwest Towner County, just northwest of Devils Lake. The town was dissolved in 2002 when its population was five.
Other nearby towns include Cando to the north, as well as Niles and Leeds to the southwest. It’s just northwest of Devils Lake and about 117 miles west-northwest of Grand Forks.