Man who shot 3 outside downtown Fargo bar said he 'made 13 decisions to live'

Brandon Grant fired 13 bullets, saying he feared being attacked when he exited the bar where he was assaulted by three men. Prosecutors said he was seeking revenge after the fight.

Brandon Grant demonstrates during testimony at his trial Wednesday, May 25, 2022 in Cass County Court how a person appears when preparing to shoot another. Grant, who shot three others outside of the Bismarck Tavern, said one of those people was "bladed" and appeared to be drawing a weapon before he fired first.
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — A 44-year-old who shot three people last year behind a downtown Fargo bar said he feared for his life when, according to him, the three men who assaulted him inside the establishment threatened and advanced at him outside.

Brandon Roosevelt Grant, of Fargo, took the stand Wednesday, May 25, at the Cass County Courthouse to testify that he acted in self-defense against Willie Earl Carr Jr., Tommie Trent and John Clemons early Feb. 21, 2021, behind the Bismarck Tavern. Grant faces three felony charges each of attempted murder and aggravated assault.

Prosecutors alleged he shot the three men and tried to kill them out of revenge. Grant claimed the men threatened to kill him and advanced on him, potentially preparing to draw weapons, when he was behind the Bismarck.

That’s why he “just pulled the trigger as many times as I could to get them to repeal,” Grant testified.

“I was scared for my life,” he said.


Brandon Grant wipes a tear while giving testimony during his trial in Cass County Court on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

The trial centers on an altercation inside the Bismarck Tavern and the shooting that happened just seconds later. Grant and his girlfriend, Antoinette Rodriguez, had been in the bar for several minutes when Carr approached Grant to confront him about allegations Grant sexually abused a child Carr knew.

Grant was not charged in connection to the allegations.

Video showed Carr showing Grant a cellphone before punching Grant. The defendant testified that he was blindsided.

Trent and Clemons joined the assault before Grant was forced to the ground. Video showed Trent, Clemons and Carr punching and stomping on Grant as, in his own words, he was "balled up" on the floor.

A bouncer prevented Carr from throwing a chair on top of Grant, according to video. Bar staff broke up the fight quickly.

John Clemons is one of three men who were injured in the shooting by Brandon Grant. Grant, who is on trial this week, maintains he acted in self-defense.

Grant said he heard someone say they were going to kill him after he stood up. Clemons, who testified Tuesday, said he did not threaten Grant and did not hear his friends do so.

A bouncer escorted Trent, Clemons and Carr out the rear exit.

Video showed Grant following them. Claiming to be dazed and disoriented, he said his goal was to find his girlfriend and leave.


Prosecutor SheraLynn Ternes challenged Grant during cross-examination on whether he was dazed and couldn’t find his girlfriend. Video showed him walking past Rodriguez in the bar as he walked out the back exit.

Ternes also claimed a bouncer, shown in video putting his hand on Grant’s back, guided him to the front entrance.

Grant said he didn’t see Rodriguez. He also disputed Ternes’ claim that he was guided to the front of the bar. Grant noted the bouncer did not walk him to the entrance.

Denying claims he followed his attackers out of the bar, Grant also said he had no reason to go out the front entrance since his car was behind the bar.

Defense attorney Steve Mottinger questions his client Brandon Grant in Cass County Court on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

The defendant said he didn’t know where the men who attacked him were or whether the threat was over after he got up from the floor.

As he tried to exit the bar, Grant said, he saw the three men who just attacked him behind the Bismarck. He said he felt someone push him out the back door.

Grant claimed his assailants continued to threaten to kill him. One man told Trent to “come back here with that” gun, Grant claimed.

Trent turned toward Grant and threatened him, Grant testified. He claimed Trent tried to grab him, tried to take his gun and appeared to be reaching for his waistband.


That’s when Grant pulled his weapon and shot until his gun “was empty,” he said.

Video showing the shooting appears to show Trent turning toward Grant, the defense previously said. Prosecutors disputed that assessment.

Grant claimed the men continued to advance on him. He also alleged Clemons appeared to be preparing to shoot him by “blading up” and putting his hand in his pocket.

Grant's training in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve told him when threatened, he should fire until the threat is neutralized, he said.

There is server training on preventing overserving alcohol and identifying underage drinkers in Fargo, but determining how to handle fights and deescalation is largely left to the bars to decide. Some believe bars should leave altercations to the police, while experts say staff should have some training.

Clemons testified he and his friends were walking away from the bar when he heard shots being fired. He previously told a detective he saw Grant pull out his gun, defense attorney Steven Mottinger noted.

Grant fired 13 bullets and fled the scene, according to police. Grant said he left for his safety.

The men survived with injuries.

Grant said he called a friend and told them to keep his gun in a safe, saying he would need it to give to the police. The gun was found in a dumpster in Fargo.

Grant testified that he went to Chicago and made plans to turn himself in. When he returned to Fargo, he was arrested at a hotel.

Police said they found no evidence to suggest Trent, Clemons and Carr had a weapon. Ternes noted the only shells found at the scene came from Grant’s gun.

“There are guns called revolvers that do not eject casings,” Grant said.

Brandon Grant gives testimony during his trial in Cass County Court on Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Prosecutors have said Grant had his handgun drawn as he pursued his attackers. Grant said he didn’t want to shoot the men, but he also didn’t want to die.

He noted he has a constitutional right to carry a gun, adding he bought it legally. Guns are not allowed in bars.

The men attacked Grant “unprovoked” and “viciously” inside the bar because of a lie, Grant said. He thought they would do the same outside.

“You made 13 decisions to pull the trigger,” Ternes said when questioning Grant.

“I made 13 decisions to live,” Grant replied.

Grant’s questioning wrapped up 2 ½ days of testimony during his trial. Prosecutors and the defense will present closing arguments Thursday morning before jurors get the case.

Trent and Carr did not testify because police could not find them, Ternes said. The two men pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges for attacking Grant in the bar.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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