The FBI is investigating after a man killed himself in a courtroom at the Federal Courthouse in Fargo on Monday, May 17.
Jeffrey Ferris, 55, of Belcourt, North Dakota, "used an easily concealable instrument to take his own life," the FBI told Bring Me The News in a statement. According to Forum News Service, witnesses said the man slit his throat while his guilty verdict was being read.
Ferris had apparently asked the judge if he could be released until his sentencing but his request was denied. That's when he stood up, started fidgeting and then he slit his neck with an object, the witness told Forum News Service.
The FBI noted Ferris died in the courtroom and an autopsy is being conducted.
Ferris was found guilty of reckless endangerment, terrorizing, and use of a firearm in relation to a felony crime of violence, the FBI said. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison.
Ferris was found not guilty of eight counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, the FBI said.
Forum News Service, citing court documents, says Ferris' convictions stem from an April 2020 incident in which he is accused of driving a Jeep toward seven children at "excessive speeds" and nearly hitting them on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. He is also accused of assaulting someone with a 9mm handgun.
The FBI says it is investigating to determine if any federal criminal laws were violated. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marshal Service is responsible for physical security at the courthouse, so it will review security procedures.
It's so far unclear what type of object Ferris used to kill himself and how he got said object into the courtroom.
Anyone dealing with a suicidal crisis or emotional distress can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255. The lifeline is available 24/7/365.