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Suspect who allegedly killed a man ‘over a boxing machine’ captured after local farmer held him at gunpoint for police

Nicholas Poitras (Eddy County Sheriff's Office)

Nicholas Poitra (Eddy County Sheriff’s Office)

The three-day manhunt for the 45-year-old North Dakota man accused of shooting and killing another man in front of multiple witnesses ended Wednesday, when a local farmer held the suspect at gunpoint until authorities arrived.

Nicholas Poitra was taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with a spate of felonies in the slaying of 30-year-old Troyal Thumb, authorities announced.

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The charges against Poitra include one count of intentional murder, one count of robbery with a firearm, seven counts of terrorizing with a dangerous weapon, and one count of possession or sale of a short-barreled rifle or shotgun, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show. Additionally, one of the terrorizing charges against Poitra states that the victim was a child.

“Nicholas Poitra has been appended by law enforcement,” the Rolette County Sheriff’s Office posted to Facebook Wednesday afternoon. “Thank you for all your help.”

According to court documents obtained by Fargo NBC affiliate KVLY-TV, law enforcement agencies at approximately 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19 responded to Rindy’s Sheyenne Bar located in the 100 block of Main Street North regarding reports of a man being shot in the head. Sheyenne is roughly 160 miles northwest of Fargo, North Dakota.

Upon arriving at the scene, authorities located Thumb, who was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Investigators say that Poitra and Thumb got into a verbal altercation at the bar that quickly escalated, with Poitra grabbing a short-barreled shotgun and fatally shooting Thumb in the head.

The argument was apparently “over a boxing machine” that both men were trying to fix, authorities said.

“Kind of the mystery, we don’t really know what took place,” Eddy County Sheriff Paul Lies reportedly told WDAY. “We know Mr. Thumb approached the machine, tried to get it to work. We know the suspect was also talked to about the machine and a short time later the conversation turned deadly.”

Following the fatal shooting, authorities claim that Poitra pointed the firearm at two other individuals in the bar as he took the surveillance footage from the bar’s security camera.

Poitra allegedly pointed the shotgun at the other five people in the bar and stole their cell phones and car keys before running out the back of the building and stealing a 2013 Ford Explorer, KVLY reported.

Following the incident, the Rolette County Sheriff’s Office put out a press release stating that Poitra was “armed and dangerous” and had “strong ties” to the community.

On Feb. 20, authorities located the stolen Ford Explorer at an unoccupied farm in Wells County, per KVLY. When they searched the home, investigators say they found evidence that indicated someone was likely helping Poitra evade law enforcement.

A short distance away from that farmstead, just over the Eddy County line, a farmer recognized Poitra walking on or near his property, WDAY reported. The farmer, who declined to comment on the incident, reportedly called the police and then held Poitra at gunpoint until officers arrived on the scene.

Poitra is scheduled to appear before Judge James D. Hovey for a bond hearing on Thursday.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.