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Grand Forks County deputies involved in February shooting have positive reviews

GRAND FORKS — More than two weeks after a man was injured when Grand Forks County officers fired at him, the deputies involved have been cleared from potential charges and returned to work.

Grand Forks County Sheriff Andy Schneider said the investigation is ongoing, but he expects charges to be filed soon against the man injured during the shooting.

On Feb. 17, 34-year-old Travis Michael Lee Holt pointed a firearm toward deputies Lee Mewes and Christopher Hutton as they responded to a car on the side of U.S. Highway 2 near Arvilla, about 22 miles west of Grand Forks, according to a press release from the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office.

A shot was fired and Holt was injured, the release said. Details were not released about his condition, but Holt appeared in court via video call Feb. 27 wearing a black eye patch over his left eye.

Mewes and Hutton were placed on paid administrative leave immediately following the incident, per department policy. Schneider said they were cleared Thursday, March 7, and returned to work the same day.

Mewes has been with the office for 11 years, and Hutton has worked there for 21 years. Personnel files for both officers show consistently above average reviews and positive remarks from peers, supervisors and members of the community.

A note submitted by a Larimore citizen praised Mewes for stopping at her son’s lemonade stand and showing the kids his patrol car. Mewes reportedly donated “everything in his wallet” to the boys, who were raising money to build a community swimming pool.

“I realize that on Monday the officer may not have caught some big fugitive, but I do believe he made an impression on some young boys that I hope will last a lifetime,” the note read. “Someday, maybe one of these young men will decide to become an officer and help protect people and teach young children about safety.”

Mewes’ personnel files showed no disciplinary action during his 11 years with the department.

Hutton’s reviews said he strives for success and often took on leadership roles. Hutton “takes pride in his job and the department.”

His file contains a couple complaints. Hutton was deemed responsible for a car crash in 2012 when he pulled his patrol car in front of an oncoming driver, and he was disciplined in late January for not finishing paperwork.

Holt was arrested in February on charges not related to the shooting, but that occurred the night before it. He’s being held without bond on charges of violating a protection order, terrorizing and unlawful possession of a firearm.

An affidavit for his arrest said he went to the home of a woman who had a restraining order against him the night before the officer-involved shooting. He threatened the woman for “setting him up” and waved a gun around her home, the affidavit said. He allegedly said he’d shoot anyone who came into the home.

Holt is not allowed to own firearms because he’s a convicted felon, although the affidavit said he told investigators he always carries a weapon with him.

His criminal history involves numerous violent crimes in North Dakota and Minnesota. He spent three years behind bars for stabbing a man in Crookston during 2010. In 2018, he crashed his car into a Minot state senator while planning to visit a woman who had a restraining order against him.

During a preliminary hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Andrew Eyre said Holt’s criminal history is “incredibly violent and remarkably concerning.”