The somber song and pounding of a drum slowly grew louder Sunday as a group descended from a north Rapid City hilltop where they had been mourning the death of Allen Locke.
Comprised of about 30 people, the group finally stopped in front of the home at 541 Paha Sapa Road, where Locke, 30, was fatally shot Saturday night by Rapid City Police after he charged an officer while holding a knife, according to police reports.
The officer, identified as Anthony Meirose during a press conference early Sunday morning, is on administrative leave pending an investigation by the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation.
Among the walkers mourning Locke on Sunday was Robin Page, board member of Lakota Community Homes, where the shooting took place.
"We must find positive solutions to make sure this doesn't happen again," Page urged emotionally as she committed on behalf of the board to spark action to achieve change.
Police Capt. Dan Rud stressed that the police shooting was a matter of criminal activity and not of color or race.
"Locke was known to local law enforcement through previous criminal contacts," he said, though the previous crimes weren't elaborated on.
"The officer is white. The suspect is Native American, but it's not a race deal," Rud said. "This is based on criminal behavior and has nothing to do with race. If the police officer was Native American and the suspect was white, the result would have been the same thing."
He said police were originally called to the home at about 6:30 p.m. Saturday to deal with an unwanted person. Meirose, who joined the force in 2013, was the first officer at the scene.
Rud said Locke charged Meirose with a knife as Meirose stood in the doorway.
"The officer drew his weapon and shot the subject several times," he said, later estimating that up to five shots were fired.
Rud said Locke, a Rapid City resident, was presumably intoxicated, though evidence has not yet confirmed that. He said a second officer arrived shortly after the shooting. Nobody in the residence was harmed; Meirose was also uninjured.
Rud said Locke had ties to the neighborhood but didn't detail what ties there were. DCI is now investigating the details of the incident.
The shooting is the second fatal police shooting in 2014. Police in June shot and killed Harold Murphy, 35, who had pulled a gun on Rapid City Police Officer Lucas Lang as they wrestled in the parking lot of the Clock Tower Gardens apartment complex, according to the police.
Melaine Stoneman, 43, of Rapid City attended the Sunday morning conference and later the prayer and mourning ceremony at Lakota Community Homes.
Stoneman detailed the conference as "narrow, fast, and blunt."
"That's exactly what they did in that press conference is justify everything," she said, while noting that the incident is only part of a longstanding relations issue between local law enforcement and the Native American community. "That's our son. Any mother (here) would say that."
"There is no trust in the police department," Stoneman said, who also called for a task force to address the issue. "In the long run, it's going to have to come from the city: the mayor, the chief of police."
There will be a prayer gathering at 10 a.m. today outside the Rapid City mayor's office, 300 Sixth Street, according to a statement sent to the Journal late Sunday by Chase Iron Eyes, a representative of Locke's family.
"Allen was many things to many people and he would want us to remain peaceful and prayerful during this most trying time for our family," the family said in the statement.
The shooting came roughly 24 hours after an anti-police brutality march, organized by American Indian Movement Grassroots, was held in Rapid City. The march was organized to draw attention to the often strained relationship between Native Americans and law enforcement.
Terry Schumacher, 58, lives near the residence where Locke was shot Saturday. He was shocked at the incident. But ultimately, he said, it's far too early to make a judgement call on whether the shooting is tied to race, though the accusations have become steadfast.
"I've seen amazingly crazy things. I've seen amazingly beautiful things, just like anywhere else," Schumacher said, talking about the Lakota Homes subdivision. "Everybody needs to see how it will all play out."
One fact, however, should stand at the forefront of the issue he said, "Your actions are everything. (The police) were called there."