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A federal convict who escaped from a Rapid City halfway house in December was fatally shot last week during a struggle that left a tribal police officer wounded on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.

Raymond Walter Gassman died at the scene of the struggle last week, according to a news release from Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services. The death and the officer wounding were previously confirmed by the FBI, but Gassman’s name had been withheld.

The fatal confrontation began when a Rosebud police officer responded to a vandalism call at 7:43 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb 2. The officer made contact with the suspect, Gassman, at a residence and attempted to arrest him, according to the news release from the tribal police. The release also said a witness saw Gassman tackle the officer, and during the struggle, shots were fired, wounding both Gassman and the officer.

The officer, whose name was not divulged in the news release, called for medical assistance. Additional officers and an ambulance crew soon arrived and tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Gassman, the news release said. The officer was transported to the Cherry County Hospital in Valentine, Neb., with non-life threatening injuries and has since undergone surgery.

Pursuant to standard procedure for an officer-involved shooting, the officer was placed on administrative leave, the news release said.

The news release also said that all evidence, including the officer’s body camera, was turned over to the FBI. That agency is handling the investigation into the shooting but declined to divulge any further details Monday.

Gassman, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, had been on the lam for about six weeks since cutting off his ankle monitor Dec. 23 and failing to return to Community Alternatives of the Black Hills, a Rapid City halfway house at which he had been serving the latter part of a federal sentence for robbery.

Gassman and another man robbed the Paul Mart convenience store in Todd County in 2012. They struggled with the clerk, and Gassman cut the clerk with “a sharp-edged instrument or machete,” according to a court statement that Gassman signed. Gassman’s age was listed as 19 at the time of his conviction in 2013.

Another recent escapee from Community Alternatives of the Black Hills, Elias James LaPointe, is still at large and believed to be on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. LaPointe also is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

LaPointe removed a monitoring device and left Community Alternatives of the Black Hills on Dec. 30, one week after Gassman, according to an affidavit from a deputy U.S. marshal. 

LaPointe was convicted in 2014 for an assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to a person younger than 16.

According to a statement that the then-21-year-old LaPointe signed prior to his conviction, he was at home in Mellette County on the morning of Oct. 23, 2013, when he assaulted a 19-month-old child, causing the child to suffer a lacerated liver, subdural hematoma, injured jaw, damaged pancreas, bruised scrotum and numerous other hematomas and injuries.

LaPointe did not immediately seek medical care for the child, and it was not until the child’s mother came home more than four hours after the assault that the child was finally taken to a hospital in Rosebud and then another hospital in Sioux Falls.

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Contact Seth Tupper at seth.tupper@rapidcityjournal.com

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