A North Dakota National Guard Airman Was Shot and Killed in His Home on Christmas Eve

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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Van Pelt, of the 219th Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard, talks on a radio during a force-on-force annual training exercise scenario at the Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Van Pelt, of the 219th Security Forces Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard, talks on a radio during a force-on-force annual training exercise scenario at the Minot Air Force Base, N.D., June 24, 2021. (David H. Lipp/U.S. Air National Guard photo)

A North Dakota Air National Guardsman was shot and killed at his apartment on Christmas Eve, and local police have a suspect in custody.

Master Sgt. Nicholas Van Pelt, 41, of the 219th Security Forces Squadron, died during a shooting at his apartment in Minot, North Dakota, at around 8 p.m. local time Dec. 24, according to a news release from the North Dakota National Guard. A neighbor reported hearing six gunshots from the apartment next to his own and two more shots were heard during the call to the police, according to an affidavit detailing the incident.

Officers said Van Pelt was declared dead at the scene, and a woman was also shot in the upper back and forearm and had to be transported to an area hospital for "life-threatening injuries,” according to the affidavit. The woman, whose name was not disclosed, is an employee in the county's state attorney's office, according to court documents obtained by Military.com.

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A suspect, Daniel Breijo, 39, was taken into custody at the scene, according to the documents. He was arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder and causing bodily injury to a corrections officer.

Breijo is "believed to be a law enforcement officer who had been assigned to work with the Ward County Narcotics Task Force," according to the court documents. The Minot Daily News, citing North Dakota legal officials, reported that he is an officer with the Department of Homeland Security.

Jesse Walstad, Breijo's attorney, declined to comment on the case when reached by Military.com on Thursday.

Van Pelt, a native of Georgia, joined the Air Force in 2001 and then became a member of the North Dakota Air National Guard in 2009. He was also a Ward County Sheriff's deputy until May, when he began serving full-time with the 219th Security Forces Squadron, the North Dakota National Guard said in the news release.

"As many in the community are already aware, on Dec. 24, 2023, the life of former Ward County Deputy Nicholas Van Pelt was tragically cut short due to a senseless act of violence," the local law enforcement agency wrote Wednesday on Facebook. "Even though he recently moved on to work full time with the Air National Guard, he was, and always will be, our law enforcement brother."

Van Pelt is survived by three children and his parents, the North Dakota National Guard said.

"This is a tragic event that happened to Master Sgt. Nicholas Van Pelt, and we extend

our sympathies to his friends and family," Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, the North Dakota

adjutant general, said in a news release. "Van Pelt served his nation for more than 14 years as an airman in the North Dakota National Guard and as a defender in 219th Security Forces Squadron. He will always be remembered."

Because Van Pelt, Breijo and the wounded woman are all reportedly connected to either local and state law enforcement or the state attorney's office, an outside judge and special prosecutor were requested for the case. Breijo is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Feb. 1.

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