Grand Forks, ND – A Grand Forks police officer was murdered while attempting to serve eviction papers at an apartment building on Wednesday afternoon.
A Grand Forks Sheriff’s Office (GFSO) deputy was also wounded during the altercation, and a woman who was inside the apartment was found dead after the attack, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
The incident began at approximately 2:30 p.m., when two Grand Forks officers and two GFSO deputies traveled to the apartment complex at 2676 South 17th Street to serve eviction papers on 41-year-old Salamah Pendleton, Grand Forks Police Department (GFPD) Lieutenant Derik Zimmel said.
When the officers arrived at apartment 303, Pendleton abruptly began shooting at them, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
“A male subject from within that apartment, unexpectedly and without warning, opened fire,” Lt. Zimmel said. “The officers called for immediate assistance.”
Neighbors said they heard between five and 15 gunshots, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
One deputy and one officer were both hit by gunfire, as was Pendleton.
Investigators found a woman dead “from apparent gunfire” inside the apartment, Lt. Zimmel told the Grand Forks Herald.
The wounded officers were rushed to a local hospital, where the GFPD officer succumbed to his wounds.
The GFSO deputy is in stable condition.
Pendleton was transported to the hospital for treatment of his gunshot wound.
His condition is unknown.
“To my understanding, it was gunfire without warning,” Lt. Zimmel said, according to the Grand Forks Herald. “That’s one of the aspects of law enforcement. You go to a call that is something as simple as execution of civil paperwork, and it can turn very violent in a hurry.”
He said that law enforcement offices around the area have been struggling in the wake of the shooting.
“I think all of us are going to struggle with this one,” he said. “Whether you’re on the scene, whether you’re involved, whether you’re asleep and wake up to this news – brothers and sisters, when one hurts, we all hurt. So, we’re all going to have a tough time with this one.”
The GFSO said that the ambush attack has changed the community forever.
“Today our worst day became too real.
The GFPD station was lit up with blue lights on Wednesday night in honor of the fallen officer, KFGO reported.
Meanwhile, hundreds of mourners gathered outside the hospital for a candlelight vigil for all three shooting victims.
“There’s a hole in my heart that can never be plugged,” GFPD Chief Mark Nelson said. “These people wear a badge, these people protect your community, these people ask for nothing in return other than an honest salary.”
“Remember, it is not how this officer died, it is how this officer lived that made him a true hero.” Chief Nelson added.
The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is handling the ongoing investigation into the fatal shooting, Lt. Zimmel said.