Suspect in deadly Red Lake reservation shooting still on the lam
Federal, state and local law enforcement still are hunting for a suspected gunman in a deadly shootout Wednesday in Redby, Minn., on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, that left one man dead and two critically wounded. No one has been arrested in the incident, police said late Thursday.
According to Red Lake tribal police, Donald Lee Clark, 22, is considered to be heavily armed and dangerous. Clark was last was seen by witnesses driving a 1988 black GMC Yukon SUV with a "cream-colored stripe" on the side and a Red Lake tribal license plate 19287.
He was seen fleeing the scene Wednesday that left three men bleeding from gunshot wounds. It's not clear if others involved in the shootout also are on the lam but at least one other man is being sought as a person of interest.
Julian Demarrias, 22, died of gunshot wounds at a Red Lake hospital Wednesday. His brother, Jerrick Demarrias, 19, and friend Orland Spears, 19, remain hospitalized in critical condition from gunshot wounds, according to Red Lake tribal police.
It's not known if Clark, also known as Don Juan, or others, were wounded in the exchange of gunfire.
FBI spokesman Steve Warfield said despite Clark being armed, there wasn't a significant danger to the general public because it was a personal dispute.
"This was two groups of guys who didn't like each other," Warfield told the Herald Thursday. He said the search was focused "on and near" the Red Lake reservation northwest of Bemidji.
The FBI has primary jurisdiction for any alleged felonies on Indian reservations.
William Brunelle, director of public safety for the Red Lake Tribe of Chippewas, said Clark remained on the lam.
Three "persons of interest" were named early Thursday, but one, Anthony Morrison, has been determined to not be involved in the shootout, Brunelle said. .
A second, Jerilee Head, a woman, has been interviewed, Brunelle said. She remains a person of interest but it's not clear yet if she was present at the shootout or whether she was involved in some way, Brunelle said. A relative of Head told the Herald she is Clark's girlfriend and was being harassed and chased around town Wednesday by the Demarrias brothers.
A third person of interest, Cruz White, is being searched for, Brunelle said.
Clark also has not been found, Brunelle said Thursday afternoon and is considered to be heavily armed and possibly dangerous.
From eight to 10 shots were fired Wednesday afternoon on the main street in Redby, about five miles east of Red Lake, police say.
As witnesses told the Herald Wednesday evening and police confirmed Thursday, Clark was driving a large black SUV when he encountered the Demarrias brothers and Spears, who were in a Dodge Durango SUV on a residential street in Redby about 3 p.m.
Gunfire erupted from both sides, a man who said he witnessed the shootout told the Herald on Wednesday. It left the Demarrias brothers lying bloody and critically wounded in the street and Spears badly wounded in the Durango, unable to move enough to get out, witnesses told the Herald.
Red Lake police responded within minutes, Brunelle said.
Clark sped away from the scene in the Yukon and is considered the main shooter, although it's not clear how many weapons were fired or who pulled the trigges, FBI and Red Lake police said.
The witness, who said he lives less than a block from where the shootout happened, said he was working outside when he heard shots. He said the first shots sounded like shotgun blasts and appeared to be returned by automatic rifle shots. He later found two shotguns near the Demarrias brothers.
The man said Clark exchanged gunshots with the Demarrias brothers and Spears and that Clark fired an automatic rifle, the brothers fired shotguns and Spears had a .22 rifle across his lap inside the Durango after it was over.
He said after the first barrage of gunfire, the Demarrias brothers went down in the street, then got back up and fired again, with Clark returning fire before fleeing.
He said he saw no one else with Clark at the time. The back window of the Durango was blasted out by gunfire, the man and another witness told the Herald.
Both Demarrias brothers were alive and crying out in pain from gunshot wounds at the scene, two witnesses told the Herald. All three men were taken to the hospital in Red Lake, where Julian Demarrias died, police said.
Spears and Jerrick Demarrias were then moved to larger hospitals.
Jerrick Demarrias was in Sanford hospital in Fargo Thursday and Red Lake police said he was in critical condition. But a nursing supervisor at Sanford said no information about him was being released.
Spears was in North Country Hospital in Bemidji, where Wednesday night a nursing supervisor said he was in stable condition. On Thursday, the Red Lake police said he was in critical condition. But a hospital nursing supervisor said she could not release any information about him.
History of conflict
The man who witnessed the shooting told the Herald that he knows Clark and the three wounded men and their history of conflict.
He said he was aware that Clark and the three wounded men had been "looking for each other."
Others who know the men confirmed the witness' account that the dispute involved an earlier attempted burglary of Clark's residence, or that of a close relative of his, by the three men. It included Jerrick Demarris holding a gun to the head of Clark's toddler son, the witness said.
A man who says he's a relative of Head told the Herald Head is Clark's girlfriend and she was being harassed by the Demarrias brothers before the shootout. The brothers and Spears had invaded her home earlier, threatening the toddler, the man said.
Clark had just dropped Head off at someone's home shortly before driving to where the shootout occurred, Head's relative told the Herald Thursday.
Brunelle said it isn't clear if anyone else was with Clark on his "side" at the shootout.
The man who witnessed the shooting said when he came up to the aftermath of the shootout, he found the Demarrias brothers and Spears were wearing latex "surgical gloves," which indicated to him they were planning an illegal act and didn't want to leave fingerprints.
Two shotguns, used by the brothers, were lying at the scene, a 12-gauge and a smaller .410, the man said.
Clark has several criminal violations on his record, including drug possession and drunk driving in Beltrami County, according to state court records.
The U.S. Border Patrol and the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office are assisting the Red Lake Department of Public Safety and the FBI in the case.
Anyone with information about the case should call Red Lake police at (218) 679-3313, the FBI at (612) 376-3200 or the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office in Bemidji at (218)751-9111.