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Detectives and officers study a blood trail on a driveway on Meridian Road in Mapleton. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Mapleton stabbing victim identified

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news Fargo, 58102
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

MAPLETON, N.D. - A 22-year-old man was stabbed in the chest here Wednesday afternoon, a bloody assault that required the victim to be flown to a Fargo hospital for treatment.

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The victim, whose last known address was Fargo, was identified as Donte Smith. His condition was unavailable Wednesday night.

Investigators have identified a "person of interest," 22-year-old Nicholas Bruesch, whose lengthy criminal record includes convictions for assault, reckless endangerment, theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.

But investigators still were trying to determine who stabbed the man or a possible motive, said Steve Gabrielson, a detective with the Cass County Sheriff's Department.

"Lots of questions," Gabrielson said.

Dispatch logs indicated that a 911 caller at 3:09 p.m. said the victim was black, and four white men were seen running behind a nearby house. According to the caller, the victim was hysterical and hanging on to the side of a truck.

Smith was found by a truck driver who was passing through town, said Cpl. Dean Haaland of the Cass County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators believe the victim was stabbed with a knife, Gabrielson said. Asked if they had found a knife that is suspected to have been used in the attack, Gabrielson said that's still under investigation.

Cass County Sgt. Mitch Burris said the victim has a single stab wound in his right side, a cut about an inch wide in the lower to mid-abdomen.

An ambulance transported the victim from the home of Curt Steele at 117 Meridian Road to a helicopter that flew Smith to Innovis Health in Fargo. Information about his condition was not available.

Steele said he was sitting in his house watching TV when he heard banging at his door. He looked out to see a man wearing a shirt drenched in blood.

"The guy was hollering, 'I've been stabbed! Let me in! Let me in!' " Steele said.

After checking to make sure the injured man was not being followed by an attacker, Steele let him in to his doorway and had him lie down on a carpet.

Steele said he called police dispatchers, who told him to try to talk to the man to keep him awake. The victim was soaked in blood all down the front of his body but was still alert and conscious, he said.

"He was talking, but not about what happened," Steele said.

Gabrielson said it wasn't clear where the attack happened. Detectives and other officers were talking to neighbors, including the house next door to Steele's, and Burris said they were tracking a trail of blood along Meridian Road - which is about a half-mile north of Interstate 94.

Burris said Smith is not cooperating with attempts to pin down where the attack occurred.

"The investigation is ongoing," Haaland said. Along with Bruesch, authorities are searching for a 1995 green Pontiac, with North Dakota license plates JFA 620.

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