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Fargo man arrested in drug-related killing

FARGO — A suspect was arrested Friday evening in a drug-related killing earlier in the day in south Fargo, police reported Saturday.

Wade Anthony Garrett, 19, of Fargo, is in custody for the intentional murder of 26-year-old Rolandas Devon House, Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said. He was arrested shortly after 7 p.m. Friday.

Garrett’s attorney contacted police Friday, and Garrett turned himself in. Police had made numerous attempts to contact him before the arrest because he was a person of interest.

If convicted, Garrett could face a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole, according to penalties in North Dakota for a Class AA felony.

Police did not release information about the weapon or weapons used in the crime, but said House’s injuries “were consistent with blunt-force trauma, along with that, some sort of edged weapon attack.”

The investigation is not complete, Vettel said, and there’s a “strong possibility” more people were involved and that the sale of illegal drugs contributed to the killing. He did not identify the drugs.

“Illegal drug activity, as we know, often brings along with it a number of things, not only impact on the community as far as a standpoint of really nonviolent-type of behavior, but certainly there’s an annex of violence that goes along with illegal drug activities,” he said.

Authorities learned of the incident when a 911 caller described what appeared to be a crash involving two vehicles at 12:20 a.m. Friday.

When officers arrived, they found one vehicle that matched the description in the 911 call in the parking lot of a grocery store. Its tires were slashed, and no one was in the vehicle.

A second vehicle believed to have been involved in the disturbance was located just east of the store. Two adult men were in the car and detained for questioning Friday.

House was found 100 yards away from the second vehicle.

Vettel stressed that the killing is not representative of the level of violence in the community.

“We still live in one of the safest places in the world, and we’ll continue to strive to make that happen in our community,” Vettel said. “It’s one of those situations where when it happens, it’s shocking to the conscience because it doesn’t happen very often. But we certainly need to take a step back and say it happened, and we believe it happened because of some illegal drug activity in our community.”

Fargo had three homicides last year, according to the Fargo Police Department’s 2013 crime statistics that were released early this month. This is the first homicide in Fargo in 2014.

“This could’ve happened anywhere within our city or even outside of our city,” Vettel said. “It was really just where these individuals ended up at the time and then that flash of violence occurred that resulted in the death of somebody.”

House had no permanent address, but Vettel said he’s been in the community for some time.

The swift arrest of Garrett sends a strong message to people involved in crime, Vettel said.

“You commit this type of crime in our community, we are going to catch you, and we’re going to put you in jail, and we’re going to do it very quickly,” he said. “And we’ve proven over time that that’s what happens when it comes to crimes in our community.”

Police are seeking the public’s help in locating a dark green 1997 Saturn vehicle with North Dakota license plate KEJ008 that is believed to have been at the crime scene. Anyone with information is asked to call Fargo police at 701-235-4493.

Anna G. Larson

Anna G. Larson is a features reporter with The Forum who writes a weekly column featuring stylish people in Fargo-Moorhead. Larson graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in journalism and joined The Forum in July 2012. She's a Fargo native who enjoys travel, food, baking, fashion, animals, coffee and all things Midwestern. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @msannagrace 

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