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A New Mexico man has been charged with second-degree murder in the wake of a shooting on the Pine Ridge reservation last month.

Palani Bull Bear, 19, of Albuquerque, N.M., is accused of killing Brycee Red Owl during what investigators describe as a confrontation in Kyle on the evening of June 27.

After receiving a call about a shooting, Oglala Sioux tribal police found Red Owl, 19, dead with three gunshot wounds: in his chest, wrist and back.

An initial FBI investigation found that Bull Bear encountered Red Owl and at least one other man on horseback near Angel’s gas station in Kyle. Bull Bear was with a male cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend.

The men on horseback were reportedly “drunk and acting stupid,” and Bull Bear told his companions to go home, according to an FBI statement submitted in court. An argument between the men broke out, Bull Bear told an FBI agent he got mad and fired two rounds of his .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol in the air. 

Bull Bear said the men on horseback appeared to be coming in his direction, so he ran down a dark alley. After catching up to Bull Bear on his horse, Red Owl reportedly attempted to grab Bull Bear’s shirt near the shoulder area.

"Bull Bear fired at least two rounds and admitted to striking Red Owl in the torso," the statement reads. “Red Owl slumped forward and fell off his horse.” Bull Bear said also that he fired several rounds in the direction of Red Owl's companion, Tolin Gregg.

After the shooting, Bull Bear fled on foot. He was found the following morning east of Kyle and taken into tribal police custody. Bull Bear told federal investigators he bought his gun from an online firearms marketplace.

He made his initial court appearance at the Rapid City federal courthouse on Friday, where he was informed of his criminal charge. He didn’t enter a plea and will return to court for a preliminary hearing July 18. If convicted, Bull Bear would face up to life in federal prison. He is detained at the Pennington County Jail.

Red Owl’s killing is the second homicide on Pine Ridge so far this year, the FBI said. Both deaths resulted from shootings.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal from February 2016 to July 2018. Contact her on Facebook or Twitter @tiffgtan.