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Man faces federal charges in robbery that led to West Fargo boy being hit by stray bullet

CJ Carruthers and 17-year-old tried to rob another teenager during a drug deal, charges allege.

CJ Carruthers.
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WEST FARGO — A 19-year-old accused of robbing a teen before an exchange of gunfire resulted in a stray bullet hitting a child in a nearby West Fargo home now faces federal charges.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Fargo filed its case last month against CJ Jesse James Carruthers, of Fargo. If Carruthers goes to trial, he will face federal charges of interference with commerce by threats and violence, use of a firearm for a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

A trial scheduled to begin July 13 was continued to November 30 following a motion from Carruthers' counsel Tuesday, June 22.

Carruthers and a 17-year-old were arrested shortly after the March 22 shooting near 36th Avenue West and Parkway Drive in West Fargo. The two got in and out of a parked vehicle before firing into the car, Cass County District Court documents alleged.

The driver, who authorities have not identified by name, fired back, and a bullet from the driver’s gun hit the head of a 6-year-old child lying in bed in a nearby house, court documents said.

Carruthers and the 17-year-old fled the scene, police said. The 6-year-old child survived.

The driver, whom a West Fargo Police spokesperson later confirmed was another 17-year-old who shot the stray bullet that hit the 6-year-old, was arrested in April. It’s unclear what charges, if any, he faced.


Federal court documents alleged Carruthers sold marijuana and tried to steal drugs and money from the driver. He also used Snapchat, a social media app, to set up the robbery, prosecutors alleged.

Carruthers and the other 17-year-old faced conspiracy to commit robbery, reckless endangerment and discharge of a firearm charges in Cass County District Court. State prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss those charges against Carruthers so the U.S. Attorney’s Office could take over the case.

Carruthers remains in custody at the Cass County Jail.

The two 17-year-olds were expected to go through juvenile court if charged. Juvenile records are considered exempt from open record laws, so it’s unknown what charges the two faced or if they have been sentenced.

It is possible for children to be charged in federal court, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to say whether that happened in this case. Those records would be sealed as well, a spokesperson said.

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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