- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) - Oglala Sioux officials have identified a man fatally shot during a basketball tournament on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and they’re taking steps to boost safety after a string of homicides.

Tribal authorities told the Rapid City Journal that several unidentified assailants killed Vinnie Brewer Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of the SuAnn Big Crow Center Boys and Girls Club.

“This incident that happened is not just one incident,” said, Oglala Sioux Tribe President, John Yellow Bird Steele. “A person really sits down, he can connect the dots. And it’s several incidences of our tribal members being murdered. And it’s all related to drugs.”

Neither the tribe nor the FBI have released details. Police are creating an anonymous hotline for people to call with information on Brewer’s killing or on other recent reservation homicides.

Brewer’s death following the fatal shooting on the reservation Sept. 29 of Chunta Suta Wi Colhoff, also known as Annie Colhoff, 34.

U.S. Attorney Randolph Seiler said in a statement Wednesday that authorities don’t believe the shootings were random, “but stem from disputes law enforcement agencies are investigating.” The statement did not give details about those disputes, but he said the investigation of the two shootings is a top priority for federal authorities in South Dakota.

Oglala Sioux Police Chief Mark Mesteth said it will be important to have the tribal residents’ help and cooperation.

“We need our citizens to cooperate with the BIA Criminal Investigations Division and just open up and tell them what they know,” Mesteth said. “And that’s not happening.”

Attorney General Tatewin Means believes tribe residents are not holding people accountable because they are too scared to come forward and don’t fully trust the system.

Means also said anyone “convicted of manufacturing or distributing schedule 1 or schedule 2 drug offenses will be banished or excluded from the reservation.”

Tribal officials have asked the Bureau of Indian Affairs to send more officers to the reservation on a temporary basis, and the tribe’s police department is looking to add 20 more officers. A drug task force also might be created.

“Several years ago, based off our population and our crime rate, the (Bureau of Indian Affairs) said we should have 150 to 170 police officers,” Mesteth said. “We’re not funded for those levels. Being the second-largest tribe in the United States, we need more officers, we need more funding.”

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