Attempted murder charge filed against Fargo driver accused of injuring motorcyclist, firing gun after crash
Maichael Yousa is being held at the Cass County Jail as he awaits a hearing on an array of charges, including attempted murder.
FARGO — Prosecutors have filed charges against a Fargo driver who authorities say seriously injured a motorcyclist and caused two more crashes before shooting a gun, prompting a North Dakota state trooper to shoot him.
The Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office brought a slew of charges Thursday, July 21, against the driver, 28-year-old Maichael Kamal Yousa.
Yousa faces 12 felony charges: attempted murder, aggravated assault, failure to stop for a crash, fleeing from police and eight counts of reckless endangerment. He's also charged with misdemeanor driving with a suspended license.
Yousa is being held at the Cass County Jail. His initial court appearance is set for 9 a.m. Friday in Cass County District Court. His attorney is Jeff Bredahl, who declined to comment on the case.
Prosecutors plan to ask to have Yousa held on $1 million bail.
The attempted murder charge alleges Yousa tried to kill 34-year-old Eric O’Meara shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday on Interstate 29 near West Acres mall. Driving a blue Chevrolet pickup, Yousa hit the motorcyclist from behind at nearly 100 mph, according to prosecutor Ryan Younggren.
Younggren said dash-cam video from a private citizen was critical to the attempted murder charge.
"You have to prove intentional conduct. That is one of the things we had to consider, would that match up with the facts here, and it certainly looked like it to us," Younggren said.
O’Meara was thrown from the motorcycle and suffered life-threatening injuries, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said. Yousa fled in the pickup, according to the criminal complaint.
According to O’Meara's longtime girlfriend, doctors at Sanford Medical Center removed his ventilator Thursday and he is communicating, but still unable to talk.
Not long after the motorcycle crash Tuesday, police received a report that a man was shooting a gun from an apartment balcony near Essentia hospital. The man, believed to be Yousa, shot the pickup that was suspected of being used in the hit-and-run, a criminal complaint said.
Police discovered Yousa lived in the apartment unit where the shots were fired. Yousa allegedly also fired several shots outside the apartment building, according to the complaint.
He shot several rounds into the air, the complaint said. He got into the blue pickup he shot and left before police arrived, the complaint said.
Police said they found 31 spent 9mm bullet casings in the apartment and around the building.
Yousa collided with another vehicle while turning from 32nd Street South onto 32nd Avenue South, the complaint alleged. That's when Trooper Miles Rhonemus turned on his emergency lights to initiate a traffic stop. Fargo Police Sgt. Matt Ysteboe assisted with the stop.
Yousa stopped but refused to get out of the pickup, the complaint alleged. The Highway Patrol said he waved a gun in the air and drove off, and a police report said he pointed the gun at his head before fleeing.
The pickup sped up rapidly in heavy rain, passing vehicles recklessly by using the shoulder when he got onto I-29, a complaint said. Yousa tried to exit off I-29 onto Interstate 94, but he rear-ended a car on the ramp, authorities said.
The occupants of that vehicle were not injured, the Highway Patrol said.
Yousa got out of the pickup, pointing a gun at Rhomenus as the trooper shouted commands at the suspect, the complaint said. Yousa then started shooting, the Highway Patrol alleged. Rhonemus shot at Yousa, hitting the suspect twice in the arm.
After reviewing dash-cam video of the incident, prosecutors say it does not appear Yousa fired directly at the trooper. Instead, he fired in his area, and that's why only a reckless endangerment charge was filed, not an attempted murder charge.
"You would need more, I think, than we have in this case and that we have filed in the court to sustain a charge like that. We thought we had it in the motorcycle crash, but in the shooting itself, we don't have the facts," Younggren said.
Yousa was treated for minor injuries. Rhonemus, who was not injured, was placed on administrative leave.
It's unclear how many rounds Yousa allegedly fired before the trooper shot him. Officers recovered a 9mm handgun at the scene.
Asked if prosecutors had a motive for the alleged 30-minute crime spree, Younggren said "not exactly."
Younggren has been a prosecutor for more than 20 years. He said this is one of a handful of cases that sticks out to him.
"To have a case exactly like this, I'm going to say in my career, I haven't. This is not one of those cases that you would necessarily see, multiple crime scenes, in a short period, short time span, this is unique," Younggren said.
The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting.