Pine Ridge officials look to curb drug-related violent crime after recent shooting

Published: Oct. 18, 2016 at 6:00 PM MDT
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The investigation continues regarding a shooting in Pine Ridge that killed one man during a memorial basketball tournament.

John Yellow Bird Steele, OST President says, "If a person sits down here, he can connect the dots. It's several incidents of our tribal members being murdered. And it's all related to drugs."

That's believed to be the case in the most recent shooting at the SuAnne Big Crow Center on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The shooting took the life of an adult man.

But tribal officials or the FBI will not release any further information... other than they think the homicide is part of several other drug-related violent crimes.

An epidemic mostly involving methamphetamine and is said to be found all over South Dakota.

Tatewin Means says, "We're seeing the violent result of people that are involved with that drug world."

The tribe's attorney general says federal authorities deal with drug offenses... but she says that will change, now that a new ordinance has been passed.

Means, "Any individual that's convicted of manufacturing or distributing schedule 1 or schedule 2 drug offenses will be banished or excluded from the reservation."

Drugs are part of the reason Oglala Sioux Tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele is declaring a state of emergency on Pine Ridge... coupled with the lack of police officers to patrol the area.

Ten Bureau of Indian Affairs officers are expected to temporarily provide help to tribal police, until their goal of 44 positions are filled.

But Police Chief Mark Mesteth says police can't do it alone... they need community support.

Mesteth says, "The people out here across Pine Ridge Reservation... we just need you to come forward with your information."

Means says she thinks lack of trust in the system and fear are two major factors keeping citizens from holding people accountable.

But a new tipline is in the works, where people can anonymously report crimes or suspicious activity.