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Brother arrested in killing

A heated argument between two brothers -- one loud enough to be heard by neighbors -- ended early Sunday in an apartment at 2513 9th St. N.

A heated argument between two brothers -- one loud enough to be heard by neighbors -- ended early Sunday in an apartment at 2513 9th St. N. in Fargo with a single gunshot blast.

"I heard something like a very loud sound -- something big dropping down on the floor," said Seonghee Lee, who lives in one of two lower-level apartments in the fourplex.

Chad Gunnar Erickson, 26, is being held in the Cass County Jail pending charges for the shotgun death of his brother, Aaron Erickson, 29.

According the police and nearby apartment tenants, the brothers were involved in the verbal battle just prior to the shooting.

The alleged crime took place at 2:37 a.m. Sunday, just three minutes after Fargo police were called to the scene of a stabbing in far west Fargo that sent a woman to the emergency room of Innovis Medical Center.

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According to Sgt. Greg Lemke of the Fargo Police Department, officers assigned to all 10 squad cars on duty and two held over from shifts that ended at 2 a.m. were involved in responding to the two crime scenes.

"We see these types of crime occur, but to see two in one day, let alone two within minutes of one another, is unheard of," he said. "But violent crime is increasing, in large part due to meth. It doesn't surprise me that we found meth with this homicide."

A search warrant for Erickson's apartment turned up meth and marijuana, according the a police report on the shooting.

Lemke said Chad Erickson called 911 to report that he had shot his brother. "He basically confessed -- said he shot his brother," Lemke said. "He also admitted as much when the officers arrived."

When officers arrived they found Aaron Erickson's body lying in the entrance of the apartment with a shotgun wound to the chest. Police said the weapon was a 12-gauge, or hunting, shotgun.

Paramedics were called to the scene but it was determined he was dead before they arrived, Lemke said.

According to a police account released to the media, the brothers' argument ended with Aaron leaving the apartment. One of the Erickson brothers was the primary tenant of the two-bedroom apartment, said Mary Larson, head of property management for Coldwell Banker, an apartment and condominium company which manages the property.

"Aaron had gone outside and was leaving. I was told he had left and calmed down. But Chad called on the phone and things got going again," Lemke said.

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What Chad didn't know is that Aaron hadn't gone far. Police believe Aaron, still in the area, returned, kicked down the door, and confronted his younger brother. Chad allegedly ended the confrontation with a shotgun blast to his brother's chest.

"Both had been consuming alcohol," Lemke said. He said the accused brother agreed to a breath test for alcohol. "He was very cooperative."

Aaron's body early Sunday was taken to Bismarck for an autopsy.

By Sunday evening, hours after detectives had dispersed, there was a new door to No. 9, borrowed from a lower-level entrance to a common laundry area in the unsecured building.

The laughter of women, loud conversation and a high-volume TV could be heard beyond the door. A young man who answered the door Sunday evening, wearing a red T-shirt and smoking a cigarette, told a reporter and photographer first to "go away" and then to "go to hell."

A young woman in an idling car outside said her boyfriend was inside the apartment visiting a friend "on an errand."

It's not uncommon to see people coming and going to Apt. 9, according to Lee and Sunram. "Every weekend someone visits the apartment," said Lee, a Korean graduate research student in plant pathology at North Dakota State University, said. "They drink beer. Nothing too loud.

"I thought it was just young people coming over. But it never bothered me," Sunram said. "I'd just say, 'Hey.' I'd see people come in and out."

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Sunram, a 30-year-old trencher who lives in the other upper-level apartment said he can hear voices through his bathroom wall. He was sitting in his chair at 2:30, listening to music on headphones because Lee's dog was barking downstairs.

Lee's dog stopped barking when he arrived home Sunday evening, just as it did when he arrived home early Sunday morning from a visit with friends at Buffalo Wild Wings.

After hearing the sound like something big hitting the floor, he heard nothing for at least a half an hour. Asked if he heard a gunshot, the Korean military veteran said no, nothing like the one's he heard in the service. "A gunshot is not like that," he said of the sound he heard earlier. "I heard a noise like you hear when you hit the floor with a hammer."

Sunram was alarmed when police came knocking on his door.

"It took me by surprise," the bachelor said. "It's once in a great while I would hear that. I'm thinking about buying a small home. But I still like living here. It's a nice place to live."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Gerry Gilmour at (701) 241-5560

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