The flag of the Crow Tribe. Photo: Crow Tribe of Indians
Law | National

Crow Tribe seeks to improve public safety after shooting deaths of three citizens





Federal authorities continue to investigate a shooting that left three citizens of the Crow Tribe dead and two others injured.

According to news reports, Nehemiah Brokenrope, 30; Leslie Frank Nomee Jr., 27; and his wife, Denise Stewart Nomee, 25, were killed on August 4 after they entered a home on Lodge Grass, a community on the Crow Reservation in Montana. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are treating the incident as a triple homicide, The Billings Gazette said.

An emergency curfew remains in place following the shooting, which Chairman Alvin "A.J." Not Afraid, Jr. blamed on gang and drug activity. He has since called for volunteers to help out with a community watch program, the Associated Press reported.

In a statement, he also said the tribe will be putting three police officers on the ground as soon as this week, Indian Country Media Network reported. He noted that the BIA has about half of its positions vacant in the region.

"Due to these unoccupied positions it puts a heavy burden on the current law enforcement working hard to ensure public safety in these communities," Not Afraid said in a statement to ICTMN.

As Not Afraid was holding a town hall on Monday, Crow lawmakers met in a special session and passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency on the reservation. They said 9 officers left the BIA in 2013, leaving only 9 on the force.

Crow Legislative Branch on YouTube: Special Session on August 7, 2017 [Posted August 8, 2017]

"Crow Agency is in dire need of a minimum of (20) officers to cover the Crow Indian Reservation," the tribe's legislative branch said in a press release on Monday.

The reservation encompasses about 2.3 million acres in three counties. It falls within District V of the BIA's Office of Justice Services.

According to a Billings Gazette article from June 2016, the BIA only had 7 officers on the reservation. At the time, the tribe had 3 on the ground.

"Ten people taking care of a reservation that is the same size of Connecticut," BIA Chief of Police Jose Figueroa told the paper at the time. "We’re working 14-hour days, five to six days a week."

Despite the shortcomings, the Trump administration slashed the BIA's public safety budget by nearly $28 million its fiscal year 2018 request. The agency's greenbook does not offer breakdowns on how District V or any of the other districts in Indian Country would be affected.

Key lawmakers rejected the request in their fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill for Indian programs. They included $390.4 million for public safety and justice in H.R.3354, which awaits action in the House.

"All proposed cuts are restored," a report accompanying the bill reads.

Read More on the Story:
FBI: Confrontation preceded triple killing on reservation (AP 8/7)
FBI releases more details on Lodge Grass shooting (MTN News 8/7)
Homicide victims didn't live in Lodge Grass home where they were shot, FBI says (The Billings Gazette 8/7)
Crow Tribe Executive Branch holds public meeting to discuss future of public safety (KULR 8/7)
After Three People Are Killed in Meth-Related Incident, Crow Nation Set Curfew (Indian Country Media Network 8/7)
3 people killed in Lodge Grass shooting identified (The Billings Gazette 8/6)

Related Stories:
Crow Tribe blames drugs and gangs for fatal shooting on reservation in Montana (August 7, 2017)