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Statement from the Governor of the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands, Governor Ben Fital regarding the tragedy today in Marpi and Kannat Tabla

Statement from the Governor of the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands, Governor Ben Fital regarding the tragedy today in Marpi and Kannat Tabla ( (Saipan, CNMI) “My hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims in today’s shooting and most especially to those that were fatally wounded. The Commonwealth has never experienced a tragic situation like this and we are saddened by the appalling action of a single individual that has caused so much harm to our peaceful island community.”

“The Lt. Governor and I are in constant communication with officials at the Department of Public Safety and the Commonwealth Health Center to ensure that all the individuals involved, as well as their families, are receiving the best care and attention.”

“The Public School System was alerted and followed standard operating procedure by safely securing all of the student body and personnel. The PSS was alerted around 3 p.m. that the situation was contained and no threats remained to public.”

“I want our residents and visitors to know that our Commonwealth, despite this unfortunate incident, is still a safe place. I also want to ensure our friends and families abroad that we are assessing the situation and will take every precaution and action to prevent this situation from happening again. “
“My utmost thanks go out to the hard working individuals of the DPS, CHC, and many other first responders for their prompt action to stabilize the situation. We would also like to thank the many of our community for comforting the families affected.”

“We will continue to monitor the investigation and will report more information as it becomes available.”

Below is a summary of the incident as reported by the DPS:
On Friday, November 20, 2009 around 11:20 am the Department of Public Safety responded to reports of a shooting located in the Marpi area of Saipan. Upon investigation, it was determined that an individual of Asian descent had opened fire on some tourists visiting the Commonwealth. The police were able to locate the car used in the shooting and after opening the vehicle they recovered 3 rifles.

After a search of the area surrounding the vehicle a body was discovered with a self inflicted wound to the head. The body found matched the description given by witnesses as the suspect involved in the shooting. There were 5 Korean individuals that were affected by the shooting and all were transported to the Commonwealth Health Center for assessment and treatment. As of 5:30 pm, one Korean male (age 39) was in critical but stable condition after receiving a gunshot wound to the back. Two other Korean males were admitted for gunshot wounds and are in stable condition. The final two Koreans were treated and released after receiving minor lacerations.

While investigating the scene in Marpi, DPS Emergency Personnel were dispatched to a reported shooting incident located at the Kannat Tabla Shooting Range which is located in south Saipan. Upon arriving at the scene four fatalities (all local residents) were discovered and one injured young local female was immediately transported to the Commonwealth Health Center where she remains in serious but stable condition.

While the investigation will continue it appears that one suspect was involved in both shootings. The suspect has been identified but neither his name nor nationality is being released at this time.

Office of the Governor Teresa Kim-Tenorio

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