MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) — Law enforcement officials in the Moorhead and Fargo, North Dakota, metropolitan area are pledging public safety and security while investigators look for clues in the killing of a North Dakota State University student earlier this week.
The body of 18-year-old Thomas Bearson, of Sartell, Minnesota, was found Tuesday morning outside a recreational vehicle store in Moorhead. The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office said Bearson died as the “result of homicidal violence.”
Beyond that, authorities have released few details. Lt. Tory Jacobson, Moorhead police spokesman, said there are “more questions than answers” and investigators from at least five agencies are working to “ultimately get on the trail” of a suspect or suspects.
“It shows clearly that many people — very good investigators — are working very hard to learn the important piece of information that starts bringing this case together,” Jacobson said.
Authorities are asking for the public’s help to locate Bearson’s cellphone and a shoe. Police described the missing items as a white Nike Air Jordan left-foot tennis shoe, size 9 1/2, and a silver iPhone 5.
Ray Boyer, director of NDSU’s police and safety office, said it’s believed to be the first “incident of this nature” involving an NDSU student, though he wouldn’t elaborate.
Police said Bearson had last been seen at a party early Saturday morning in Fargo, about six blocks from his dorm.
“We have always found our campus to be safe and secure, with consistently low numbers of crimes reported,” Boyer said in a statement.
Fargo Police Lt. Joel Vettel said people should have a “heightened level of concern” but should not be alarmed or live in fear.
“It’s a fair question and we know it’s on the public’s mind,” Vettel said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of information that could be released. We want people to recognize that, certainly, if we felt there was some sort of imminent danger to the public, we would do everything we can to give them the information that’s necessary to keep them safe.”
NDSU officials are encouraging students to walk with others on and off campus at night. On-campus police escorts are available around the clock.
“The focus now is to provide services to our students and employees to support their needs during this difficult period,” Boyer said.
Jacobson said the case is the “highest priority call” for Moorhead police, which is leading the investigation.
“Safety is on the front of everyone’s mind,” Jacobson said. “In the wake of learning that this is a homicide, certainly the community has gone through a number of emotions, and anger and scared are among them.”
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