A shocking scene unfolded in a Fargo, North Dakota federal courthouse on Monday when a man who had just been found partially guilty in a criminal case rose from the defendant’s table and fatally slit his own throat, as Fox News reported.
According to Native News Online, just minutes after he learned his fate, Jeffrey Sahl Ferris, 54, used a plastic letter opener to produce the deadly, self-inflicted, ear-to-ear wound. Ferris’ tragic act came immediately on the heels of a decision from U.S. District Judge Peter Welte to decline his request for a 24-hour release before returning to custody.
Early reports did not identify Ferris by name, but a review of the Monday docket at the Quentin N. Burdick Courthouse revealed that his matter was the only case scheduled at the time of the event.
Though the jury had already departed the courtroom at the time of the incident, the judge, court staff, and others did witness the event, with one person describing a grisly scene in which Ferris “turned around and you could see the inside of his neck,” as the New York Post noted. Despite the efforts of security officers and federal marshals to render life-saving aid, Ferris died at the scene.
Ferris had reportedly been convicted in connection to a crime committed on the Turtle Mountain Indiana Reservation in the north central part of the state in 2019, and while earlier state terrorizing charges were dismissed, he was in court on Monday pursuant to federal charges that resulted in his conviction.
While Ferris was not an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, he was reportedly a descendant of the tribe, and he previously worked as an emergency medical technician for Turtle Mountain’s Belcourt community.
The now-deceased defendant had been accused of chasing a number of youth near his home, doing so in a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed while in possession of a handgun, as Native News Online noted.
During that pursuit, one of the youngsters crashed his bicycle, at which point Ferris aimed his gun at the minor and threatened his life if he returned to the location.
Reports suggest that as a result of his conviction on the federal charges, Ferris was facing no less than seven years in prison for using a firearm near a minor, a prospect which he apparently felt was simply too daunting to accept.