A man who had been on trial in Fargo, North Dakota, killed himself after receiving an unfavorable verdict in a U.S. District Court on Monday.
The man, identified as Jeffery Ferris, was accused of nearly running over seven children with his SUV and took the extreme step after a jury found him guilty of at least one charge connected to the crime.
Emergency crews arrived at the court just after 2 p.m. on Monday responding to reports of a man who has slit his own throat. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed the incident took place as a guilty verdict was being read for a trial.
Eyewitness Says the Man Used a Pen or Scalpel
A witness told Valley News Live that it appeared that the Ferris pulled out a pen or shank out after the partial guilty verdict was read out moments after the jury was escorted out of the courtroom.
"The guy turned around and you could see the inside of his neck. He had slit his neck with some object... don't know if it was plastic or what it was. One of the other attorneys in there said it looked like a pen, but his attorney said it looked like a scalpel," the witness said.
It is not yet clear how the weapon made it through security. Anyone who enters the courthouse through the main entrance, which authorities confirmed the defendant in this case did, has to go through a metal detector and potentially faces further searches. The U.S. Marshal Service and the FBI are investigating.
Ferris was Facing a Life Sentence
Ferris, 55, was on trial for an incident that took place on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in April last year. According to court documents, Ferris, allegedly drove a jeep towards several children and nearly hit them.
The documents also say Ferris assaulted a person with a handgun and faced charges of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, terrorizing, and using a firearm in a violent felony.
Ferris was about to be taken into custody after being acquitted on one charge and found guilty on the other, FBI spokesman Kevin Smith said. Valley News Live reporter Bailey Hurley tweeted that Ferris was facing a life sentence for the crime.