Michael Jason Smith, 32, believed to be non-Native, was taken into custody on or near reservation lands at mid-morning December 20 in New Town, North Dakota after a 48-hour standoff with police, according to a city official unrelated directly to the case.
Smith may have been living in an Indian-owned house because the community of New Town is on the Three Affiliated Tribes reservation, said the official, who added that Smith appeared to be a “white guy.”
No motive was attributed to Smith, although he had outstanding warrants, law enforcement officials said. The standoff, where tear gas was first used to get him to surrender, ended after a front loader was brought in to demolish part of the house where he was hiding in the attic, they said… Three hostages, briefly held, were released unharmed.
Nearby residents were evacuated and a school was open but heavily guarded.
New Town Police Chief Art Walgren and other officers were resting and unavailable for comment after the lengthy standoff, according to a person who answered the phone at New Town police headquarters.
The case was under the supervision of the FBI in Minneapolis because, although the crime occurred on the reservation, it would be a felony and under federal jurisdiction as a major crime, confirmed Kyle Loven, an FBI spokesman, who said he could not determine whether Smith was Indian, but believed he was not.
Loven said state and local law enforcement were also involved in the arrest.
Loven said Smith’s record involved narcotics, adding that he may have been in North Dakota in connection with drugs. Because Smith had lived in Colorado, the Jefferson County, Colorado, Sheriff’s Department might have additional information about any past convictions and outstanding warrants, he said.
The Sheriff’s office said that as a matter of policy they were unable to release any information about a person’s criminal background, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation website had no details about Smith’s record.
Because Smith’s name was not immediately available, his reported claim that his brother was shot and killed by authorities in Colorado could not be confirmed.
Smith was taken to the Mountrail County Jail where he was being held, Loven said.