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Downtown Fargo shooting has a 'distinct self-defense issue,' suspect's lawyer says

Video showed two men, who have not been identified, approaching Angel Javier Milete near the Chase Bank entrance before punching him in downtown Fargo, according to a criminal complaint. Milete retreated, drew a handgun from his pants and fired the weapon multiple times at the two men as they fled, the complaint said.

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Angel Milete appears for a hearing in Cass County District Court on Thursday, June 30, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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FARGO — A 21-year-old man accused of shooting two people in downtown Fargo in May entered not guilty pleas on Thursday, June 30, to four charges tied to the incident.

Angel Javier Milete faces two counts of aggravated assault and one count of reckless endangerment, all felonies. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of discharging a firearm in the city.

The case stems from a shooting outside the VFW in downtown Fargo. Police responded about 1 a.m. May 31 to the corner of Second Avenue North and Broadway for a report of shots fired.

Video showed two men, who have not been identified, approaching Milete near the Chase Bank entrance before punching him, according to a criminal complaint. Milete retreated, drew a handgun from his pants and fired the weapon multiple times at the two men as they fled, the complaint said.

Witnesses said they saw a group of men get into a verbal altercation with Milete, according to the complaint. The witnesses also said they saw Milete “very quickly” draw his handgun, the complaint said.

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The group ran away as Milete fired, the complaint alleged. It's unclear how many were in the group.

During Milete's court appearance Thursday, his attorney, Stormy Vickers, told the court: "We believe there is a distinct self-defense issue in this case."

Nonetheless, Cass County District Judge Nick Chase chose not to grant a reduction in conditions for release requested by Vickers and instead continued conditions for release at $50,000 cash or bond.

Court documents suggested that the alleged victims in the case, Antonio Lopez Jr., 29, and a 16-year-old, were with the group of men who approached Milete, though how they may have been involved is unclear.

Lopez and the teenager suffered gunshot wounds that were not considered life-threatening, according to police.

The Cass County State's Attorney's Office has said Lopez and the teen were not involved in the assault.

Vickers told the court Thursday the two people shot were not bystanders, but were associated with a group of people that had surrounded his client prior to the shooting.

Police said they found 14 bullet casings at the scene. Some bullets hit nearby buildings, the complaint said.

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Milete initially fled after the shooting but later turned himself in to authorities.

He told police he was scared as the group of men “advanced on him after two physically punched him,” according to the complaint.

“Milete stated he decided to brandish his handgun and shoot at them to get them away from him,” court documents said.

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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