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Two dead in mid-morning Williston shooting

WILLISTON -- Details remain murky surrounding the shooting death of two men Tuesday morning at a Williston apartment complex, although police say they have identified the victims. Their names will not be released until their families are notified.

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State and local investigators in front of a building at the Renaissance Heights apartment complex in Williston, where two men were shot dead Tuesday morning. (Photo by Elizabeth Hackenburg / Williston Herald)

WILLISTON - Details remain murky surrounding the shooting death of two men Tuesday morning at a Williston apartment complex, although police say they have identified the victims. Their names will not be released until their families are notified.

The men, both in their early 20s, were from out of state, but had a substantial group of friends in Williston. A number of those friends arrived at Renaissance Heights apartments in the hours following the shooting, and, after speaking with detectives, several broke down sobbing.

Police say the victims were found in the living room area of a fifth floor apartment around 11:20 a.m., after several 911 callers reported hearing nine to 16 shots inside the building.

A man and a woman, both of whom are residents of the apartment and were present at the time of the shooting, were detained and questioned by police, but as of Tuesday night, no charges were filed.

A small boy was also inside the residence when the men were shot, Sgt. Detective Amy Nickoloff of the Williston Police Department said.

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Three handguns were in plain sight when officers arrived at the scene, and several more firearms were seized after Williston police and agents with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation obtained a search warrant for the apartment.

A motive is still unclear, and although police aren’t yet sure how or if those involved knew each other, they do not believe the shooting was a home invasion, or done in self defense. There is no search for a gunman, Nickoloff said.

The two victims, who did not live at the complex, were let in by someone with access to the building’s locked front doors.

Residents of the fifth floor were evacuated before noon, and were not allowed back in until the evening.  

Williams County Coroner Frank McCoy says the bodies will be taken to Bismarck for autopsies by the state forensic medical examiner.

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