The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into an incident in which a man died by suicide after a guilty verdict was read for his trial.
The man was on trial facing terrorizing-related charges in Fargo, North Dakota, and federal authorities said he slashed his own throat in the courtroom Monday, according to The Associated Press.
The jury had already been escorted out of the courtroom but the incident was witnessed by U.S. District Judge Peter Welte, courtroom staff and others.
An unidentified witness told InForum that following the guilty verdict, the man had been denied release until sentencing and a 24-hour release to take care of a child care situation.
“The male was standing up. He started fidgeting … with his neck,” the witness said.
“His attorney asked him, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ And the guy turned around, and you could see the inside of his neck. He had slit his neck with some object.”
The witness added, “There was blood all over the walls in the courtroom, and the Marshals had wrestled him to the floor. You could hear him screaming, ‘I can’t breathe.'”
Court security officers and deputy marshals tried to save his life but were unsuccessful, the AP reported. Emergency crews also responded to the situation Monday.
It is unclear how the weapon got through the U.S. Marshals Service security checkpoint, according to InForum.
The FBI is also investigating the incident to determine what kind of weapon was used and how it got past metal detectors.
“I can’t remember the last time an event like this happened where somebody was able to smuggle in some contraband into a federal courtroom and die of a self-inflicted wound,” FBI spokesman Kevin Smith said.
“Very, very, very odd. Very unusual. We will take our time to get to the bottom of it.”
The man has not yet been identified, but court records show that a Fargo jury was deliberating on the case of 55-year-old Jeffrey Sahl Ferris that day, according to The Washington Post.
Ferris had been accused of nearly running over seven children in 2020 on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians’ reservation and threatening a child with a gun.
“We need to officially document what happened in that federal courtroom today,” Smith told the AP.
“All the questions you have, we have. What was the sharp object, how did it get into the courtroom, those questions, what did people see him do.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
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