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No charges in shooting death

BELCOURT, N.D. — Nobody will be charged with homicide in the shooting death of a Belcourt man in November at a house in Belcourt, U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon said Wednesday.

Joel Sherman, 29, was killed by gunfire Nov. 27 at a Belcourt residence, sparking a lockdown at area schools and a search for two men.

But the federal investigation found that Sherman had threatened another man and entered the residence and fired more than once before others shot back, killing him, Purdon said.

In December, William Marcellais, chief prosecutor for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, charged Justin Keplin, 31, with reckless endangerment and assault leading to death in the shooting.

Those charges are the most serious that can be brought by tribal court.

Keplin and his brother were the subjects of the search. Keplin’s brother was not charged.

Federal prosecutors investigate homicides on Indian reservations.

In this case, Purdon said the investigation showed Sherman began a gunfight and the shots that killed Sherman were fired in self-defense.

The investigation remains open, but no homicide-related charges will be filed, he said.

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