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Beulah residents thinking about safety after fatal shooting

BEULAH, N.D. (AP) -- Residents of a central North Dakota town say they're shaken and feeling less secure after gunfire broke out at an apartment complex Tuesday night, killing one person and wounding another.

Three men were taken into custody after the shooting just off state Highway 49 in Beulah, about 80 miles northwest of Bismarck, authorities said. The names of the people shot and those arrested have not been released.

Officials in the Mercer County state's attorney office said the suspects likely would not make their initial court appearances until at least Thursday. The sheriff's office would not say where the men were being held or when Sheriff Dean Danzeisen would release more details about the case.

The shooting occurred around 7:45 p.m. on the top floor of a three-story apartment building that is a few blocks from three school buildings -- an elementary, a middle school and a high school.

Irwin Falls Down, 19, said he and his girlfriend were sitting down to dinner in an apartment nearby when they heard a loud "smack."

"At first we thought they threw a chair against the wall," Falls Down said. "We muted the TV. Seconds later, we heard another smack. There was no mistaking" it was gunshots.

Falls Down said he called 911 and turned off the lights inside his apartment.

"We hid out on our living room floor," he said. "I wasn't going to stick my head out the door and get caught by a bullet."

Heather Funk, who lives in a neighborhood near the apartment complex, said news of the shooting spread quickly through word of mouth and social media late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

"When it happened, I went on Facebook and said lock your doors," she said. "So many people still don't lock their doors here."

Diane Aune, who manages a local convenience store, said many residents were at high school sporting events in the region Tuesday night, and the news spread quickly among them.

"Everybody in the stands knew by 8," she said.

Funk, 37, who grew up in Beulah, moved away before returning to the town on the edge of North Dakota's oil patch six years ago. She said the community of about 3,000 residents has changed a lot since she was a child.

"I used to ride my bike until after dark" when she was a child, she said. "You don't let kids do that now."

Beulah is in the heart of North Dakota's coal country, and power plants that turn the coal into electricity dot the countryside around the community. The industry has always brought people to Beulah, but residents say they're noticing more unfamiliar faces as the booming oil patch to the west results in more people and activity in general in the region.

They worry about a corresponding increase in crime.

"It's small-town North Dakota. You don't expect (killings)," said Brandon Holden, 17.

Funk said she and her neighbors keep a closer watch over their children, not letting them play out of sight.

"A lot more people have protection (guns) in their homes," she said.