MOORHEAD — Investigators here and 1,500 miles away in Virginia Beach are trying to understand motives behind recent deadly shootings.
A week after a dozen people were killed in Virginia, a Fargo man was the victim of a shooting Friday, June 7.
That day also marked the annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day, a campaign raising awareness about gun violence prevention in America while honoring the victims and survivors of gun violence.
"I'm heartbroken every time I hear about someone who dies," said Cheryl Biller, the North Dakota chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a national organization advocating for gun safety.
Biller and Martha Wheeler, of Moorhead, organized the second annual Fargo-Moorhead Wear Orange event in Gooseberry Mound Park. There were about 50 people in attendance and hundreds of similar events were held across the country.
"Wear Orange is dedicated to raise awareness of the epidemic of gun violence in our country. Americans are 25 times more likely to die of gun violence than people in other developed countries," Wheeler said. "I was just visiting with someone who said we don't have gun violence in Fargo-Moorhead, and I said 'That's not true, we do.'"
The victim of the Fargo shooting was identified as 38-year-old Jason Allen Halvorson. A moment of silence honored him and other gun violence victims.
Halvorson's slaying is believed to be the second deadly shooting in Fargo this year. On Jan. 26, John and Lois Ham died from a suspected murder-suicide.
Last year, the number of homicides tripled in Fargo.
A memorial remains on display outside the downtown McDonald's where 20-year-old Gabriel Perez was killed in a drive-by shooting Sept. 23. A few days before, 60-year-old Kevin Riley Sr. was shot by his son, who is now charged with murder. And last June, a couple made a suicide pact resulting in the death of 85-year-old Ila Averson.
At Friday's event, Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, said gun violence includes the "tragedy of suicide, the trauma of domestic violence and the horror of mass shootings." Hanson added people should be able to go to school, places of worship, movie theaters and concerts "without the worry of gun violence."
"My north Fargo neighbors and I won't soon forget that February night when we got a shelter in place alert the night Officer Jason Moszer was killed responding to a domestic call," Hanson said. "This tragedy forever scarred two families and our entire community."
Moorhead City Councilwoman Deb White read a proclamation on behalf of Fargo, West Fargo, Dilworth and Moorhead that read in part, "We renew our commitment to reduce gun violence and pledge to do all we can to keep firearms out of the wrong hands, and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our children safe."
Organizers of Friday's event said ways to curb gun violence include updating the background check system and passing red flag laws, which allows guns to be temporarily seized from a person deemed a danger to themselves or others.