FARGO — A man accused of nearly running over seven children with his SUV took his own life in a Fargo federal courtroom Monday afternoon, May 17, after a jury found him guilty of at least one charge connected to the crime.
Emergency crews responded after 2 p.m. Monday to the U.S. District Courthouse at 655 First Ave. N. for a report of a man who cut his own throat. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed this happened as a guilty verdict was being read for a trial.
The jury had been escorted out of the courtroom before the defendant cut his throat, a witness told Forum News Service.
It’s unclear how the weapon got through security. The U.S. Marshals Service is in charge of checking visitors to the courthouse for weapons.
Authorities did not identify the defendant. The only trial scheduled for last week in Fargo’s federal court was that of 55-year-old Jeffrey Sahl Ferris, who faced charges connected to an April 2020 incident on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in north-central North Dakota. Court records allege he drove a Jeep toward seven children at “excessive speeds” and nearly hit them.
Ferris is not Native American, according to court documents.
Ferris also assaulted a person with a 9mm handgun, court documents alleged. It is not clear from records if he fired the gun. Ferris faced charges of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, terrorizing and using a firearm in a violent felony.
The FBI is working to determine what type of weapon the man used on himself in court and how it got past security.
Anyone who enters the courthouse through the main entrance, which authorities confirmed the defendant in this case did, has to go through a metal detector and potentially faces further searches.
Authorities said they would release more details on the incident on Tuesday.
Editor's note: If you or a loved one is in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).