I’m not suggesting, by the way, that people who are in fear for their lives not get an order of protection. They do have their utility, but for those willing to violate them in order to commit acts of violence, a protective order is merely a piece of paper and not a suit of armor worn by their victim.
Thankfully, a North Dakota woman understood that, and even after taking out an order of protection against her on-again, off-again boyfriend after he allegedly assaulted her and threatened to kill her, she chose to have friends around in case her ex showed up at her apartment. On Monday night, he did.
A Fargo man who was fatally shot early Monday morning, Oct. 18, in a Casselton residence broke into the home where he had threatened to kill his girlfriend a week earlier, according to court documents and law enforcement.
Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner identified 58-year-old Randell Ray Burton as the man who was killed Monday at 15568 37th St. SE. Edwin Charles Kester Jr., 54, called 911 to report that he shot Burton at the apartment, Jahner said during a Tuesday news conference.
Burton broke into the home moments before Kester shot him with a revolver, Jahner said. The apartment belonged to a woman who shared an “on again, off again” relationship with Burton, according to court documents that detailed domestic violence and terrorizing charges against Burton.
Burton’s most recent charges stemmed from an incident just last week where he allegedly grabbed his girlfriend and pinned her to a wall before marching her outside her apartment and throwing her to the ground in a dispute over $200 she allegedly owed him. After speaking to police, the woman swore out charges against Burton, who pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges the next day and was quickly released after posting $1000 bond.
Burton signed a restraining order that demanded he not have contact with the woman.
Still, he broke through two doors before 2 a.m. Monday to the woman’s apartmentand headed straight toward her room, Jahner said. That’s when Kester shot Burton, Jahner said.
The woman had changed the locks and spent time with friends, noting she feared Burton would come after her, according to the sheriff. Kester was at the apartment because the woman asked him to be there so she could get some sleep, Jahner said.
“When this incident occurred, the female stated that she had friends over to the bar so that she would not be alone,” Jahner said.
That was a wise move. It sounds like she did everything she could to protect herself, including ensuring she had armed protection if necessary. But did the state do the same? After all, this wasn’t Burton’s first run-in with the law. And based on his history, allowing him to bond out after posting just $1000 seems off to me.
Burton had a criminal history involving violence. In May 2020, he was arrested at The Zone Bar in West Fargo after being confronted for trying to kiss a woman who rejected his advances, according to a criminal complaint. After being asked to leave, a fight broke out, court documents said.
When police arrived, bar patrons had subdued Burton, the complaint said. He resisted arrest until an officer threatened to use a stun gun on him, the complaint said.
While in a police car, Burton kicked the window and bars, police said. He also tried to spit on an officer and later threatened to sexually assault the officer’s family while being transported to a hospital so medical staff could evaluate his intoxication level, minor scrapes and several abrasions, the complaint said.
Burton also said he would be “hunting the families” of police involved in his arrest before threatening to kill the officers, the complaint said.
He pleaded guilty to terrorizing, disorderly conduct and simple assault in February and was later sentenced to a year of probation.
A year of probation, which means he had already completed his sentence when he was arrested and charged with domestic violence and terroristic threatening last week.
Perhaps Burton was under the impression that violating the law didn’t come with serious consequences when he decided to ignore the restraining order and break into the victim’s apartment. That may have been the case during his courtroom appearances, but clearly, and thankfully, the circumstances were different on Monday night. We may never know what Burton’s intent was, but breaking and entering and violating an order of protection aren’t typical signs of a genuine attempt at reconciliation. The victim had every reason to be in fear for the safety of her life, and based on everything we’ve learned to date, it sounds like the armed citizen was well within his rights to defend her from an attack inside her home.