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Investigation on-going in Red Lake councilman's death

RED LAKE — The weekend death of a Red Lake Tribal Council member involved a shooting and a woman has been taken into custody, officials said Wednesday.

However, few other details are being divulged about the death of Donald “Dudie” May Jr., 58, a cousin of Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain Jr., or the 47-year-old woman who was arrested Saturday.

“All I can tell you is there are a lot of questions that are unanswered,” Jourdain said in an interview with the Pioneer. “It’s just a devastating loss for our community. We have a pit in our stomach and a hole in our hearts, that’s the only way to describe it.”

The Red Lake Department of Public Safety received a 911 call regarding a shooting at a rural Red Lake residence at 7:42 p.m Saturday, according to a press release issued Wednesday by Public Safety Director William Brunelle. When officers arrived, May was found deceased and he had a gunshot wound, the release said. The release did not say if the gunshot was what killed May. A woman was at the residence and was taken into custody, where she faces charges of domestic violence, third-degree assault and disorderly conduct in tribal court. The release did not say if the woman shot May.

May’s death is being investigated by the Red Lake Department of Public Safety and the FBI.

Kyle Loven, chief division counsel for the FBI in Minneapolis, said any information about the woman would need to come from Red Lake.

“It’s a joint investigation at this point,” Loven said. “Red Lake is a separate and distinct entity.”

Brunelle could not be reached for comment Wednesday. All Red Lake offices, as well as all tribal programs, closed early to allow members to travel to support the Red Lake High School boys basketball team at the state tournament in Minneapolis. Offices will reopen on Monday at 8 a.m. Since offices are closed, it is not known if a court date has been set for the woman in custody.

Jourdain said he began his career in tribal government alongside May in 2004. At that time the reservation was stagnant, in political turmoil and there weren’t many jobs, Jourdain said. He credited May with helping turn the Red Lake reservation into one of the most prominent tribes in the state with his hard work, good work ethic and down-to-earth personality.

May was elected as a Red Lake representative to the Tribal Council in 2004, 2008 and 2012. He grew up in Red Lake, where he worked as a commercial fisherman and in logging, owned an electrical business and most recently was director of Red Lake Sanitation.

Jourdain said it was May’s mission to reclaim the Upper Red Lake portion that was taken from the Red Lake Band. May was also heavily involved in the Red Lake Ride for the Troops event and the Red Lake Suicide Prevention Bike Rally, according to May’s obituary.

In the past, the tribe has left seats open when council members died, Jourdain said, and they’ve also filled them before the term expired. May’s term would have expired in 2016.

“At this time we have no plans (to fill the vacancy). We’re just going to lay our fallen warrior to rest and cross that bridge when we get to it,” Jourdain said.

May’s wake was held at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Red Lake Humanities Building and will continue until funeral services are held at 10 a.m. Friday, also at the Humanities Building. Jourdain will be one of May’s honorary casket bearers at funeral services.


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