Federal authorities reported on Monday that a man on trial in Fargo, North Dakota, slashed his throat while inside the courtroom and died. North Dakota U.S. Marshal Dallas Carlson told the media that the incident happened after a jury returned a partial guilty verdict on the man, who was facing terrorizing-related charges. The man had in his possession a sharp instrument made of plastic.
According to eyewitness accounts, U.S. District Judge Peter Welte, the courtroom staff, and other attendees to the hearing were present during the incident. Court deputy marshals and security officers attempted life-saving measures on the man while in the courtroom before the paramedics arrived. The man succumbed to his injuries and was declared dead on the scene.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spokesman, Kevin Smith, said the man had been acquitted on one charge but was found guilty on another, and was about to be taken into custody.
“He did the self-harm after he heard the verdict and after the jury had left the courtroom,” Smith said.
Court documents show that in the previous week, Welte was presiding over a jury trial for a North Dakota man charged with reckless endangerment and assault for running someone over with his vehicle. He was also facing a terrorizing charge after he brandished a deadly weapon.
Smith said the FBI opened an investigation without releasing the identity of the man who committed suicide to the media.
“We need to officially document what happened in that federal courtroom today,” he said.
The type of instrument the man used and how it entered the courtroom remained unclear Monday evening.
“All the questions you have, we have,” FBI spokesman Kevin Smith told the AP. “What was the sharp object, how did it get into the courtroom, those questions, what did people see him do.”
A woman who said she was present in the courtroom shared her experience with the media.
“The guy turned around and you could see the inside of his neck. He had slit his neck with some object…don’t know if it was plastic or what it was,” the woman told KVLY. “One of the other attorneys in there said it looked like a pen, but his attorney said it looked like a scalpel.”