A North Dakota Air National Guardsman was killed on Christmas Eve after being shot in his home by a suspect who reportedly works with the Department of Homeland Security.
According to a press release by the North Dakota National Guard, 41-year-old Master Sgt. Nicholas Van Pelt, who served with the 219th Security Forces Squadron, was killed in a shooting incident at roughly 8 p.m. local time on Dec. 24 at his apartment, which is located in Minot, North Dakota.
An affidavit obtained by Military.com noted that Pelt’s neighbor called the local police and reported that he heard six gunshots. Additionally, two other gunshots were heard during the phone call to local police.
Law enforcement officers said Van Pelt was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting incident, while an unidentified woman was transported to a local hospital to receive treatment for “life-threatening injuries” caused by gunshots in her forearm and upper back. Military.com added that the unidentified woman is employed by the county’s state attorney’s office.
“We have lost a member of our 219th family in this tragic event and our condolences are with Nick’s family,” Maj. Greg Goodman, 219th Security Forces Squadron commander, said in a statement. “We share in the sorrow felt by his loved ones and remember the amazing friend and Airman that Nick was. As a flight chief, he protected our nation’s most important resources. He supported his community, his state and his country and has left a lasting impact on the 219th.”
Documents obtained by Military.com show that the suspect, 39-year-old Daniel Breijo, was arrested at Van Pelt’s apartment. Breijo has been charged with murder, injuring a corrections officer, and attempted murder.
The court documents obtained by Military.com state that Breijo is “believed to be a law enforcement officer who had been assigned to work with the Ward County Narcotics Task Force.”
The Minot Daily News also reported that North Dakota officials have indicated that Breijo is a Department of Homeland Security officer.
According to the North Dakota National Guard press release, Van Pelt joined the Air Force in 2001 prior to serving in the North Dakota Air National Guard in 2009. Additionally, Van Pelt served as a Ward County Sheriff’s deputy until May of 2023, when Van Pelt started serving full-time with the 219th Security Forces Squadron.
“As many in the community are already aware, on Dec. 24, 2023, the life of former Ward County Deputy Nicholas Van Pelt was tragically cut short due to a senseless act of violence,” the Ward County Sheriff’s Department said in a post on Facebook.
“VanPelt was not only a co-worker during his five years of service, but was also a friend to many in the department and left a lasting impression on everyone who knew him. Even though he recently moved on to work full time with the Air National Guard, he was, and always will be, our law enforcement brother,” it continued.
According to The Minot Daily News, since Van Pelt, Breijo, and the unidentified woman are all reportedly tied either to state and local law enforcement or to North Dakota’s attorney’s office, a special prosecutor and outside judge are expected to be assigned by the North Dakota Supreme Court.