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Two arrested after three-county pursuit, gunfire leads to eighth officer-involved shooting in SD this year

Court documents indicate the duo shot at police on five separate occasions during the pursuit, which began in Minnehaha County and ended in Lake County.

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MADISON, S.D. — A Sioux Falls and Harrisburg man are in jail after allegedly shooting at police during a three-county pursuit Thursday, leading police to return fire.

James Lanpher, 40, of Sioux Falls, and Bonner Juel, 45, of Harrisburg, were each charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement and two counts of committing a felony while carrying a firearm.

The charges stem from Thursday, July 15, when the Sioux Falls Area Drug Task Force gathered information that Lanpher was believed to be in the process of transporting a large amount of methamphetamine from Minnesota to South Dakota, and requested the South Dakota Highway Patrol conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle Lanpher was believed to have been driving.

According to a probable cause statement, law enforcement attempted to stop the vehicle, which was later known to be occupied by Lanpher and Juel, in Minnehaha County. A pursuit began at 2:08 p.m.

Police say that less than two minutes into the pursuit, at 2:10 p.m., one suspect in the vehicle began shooting at law enforcement from the window. More shots reportedly came from the vehicle at 2:12 p.m. and 2:16 p.m.

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The pursuit continued northbound on Interstate 29, entering Moody County, where the vehicle then turned west toward Colman at "a high rate of speed."

Court documents say as the vehicle entered the city limits of Madison, the suspects fired more rounds toward law enforcement.

While in Madison, Lanpher allegedly attempted to carjack a different vehicle from a citizen at gunpoint, but the citizen was able to get away from Lanpher without relinquish their vehicle.

At approximately 2:38 p.m., police reported Lanpher had exited his vehicle and was again shooting at police in the area of Ramm Heights and Southwest First Street in Madison, leading officers to return fire.

Nobody was struck by any gunfire.

After allegedly and unsuccessfully attempting to gain entry to a residence in the area, Lanpher was taken into custody at 2:47 p.m. Juel was taken into custody at the same location the vehicle had been left.

After both men were placed under arrest, Juel allegedly told authorities that the pair had thrown a blue box and gun out of the vehicle's window in Colman. Court documents do not indicate whether those items were recovered.

At the time of their arrests, Lanpher was on parole for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and possession of a controlled substance, while Juel was on probation for possession of a controlled substance.

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The men are currently being held in the Lake County Jail each on a $50,000 cash-only bond. They each face six Class 2 felony charges, which, when combined, carry a maximum punishment of 150 years in prison and fines of up to $300,000.

In a Monday morning court hearing neither man entered a plea to any charges, according to eCourts, the state's online Unified Judicial System.

In a press release from interim Attorney General Mark Vargo, the incident was described as an officer-involved shooting, though no additional details were provided regarding which or how many officers fired their weapons or to which agency those officers may belong.

As is standard procedure, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation was tasked with investigating Thursday's use of deadly force — which marked the eighth officer-involved shooting in the state.

Of those, investigations into four additional officer-involved shootings remain ongoing, including three at the hands of the Sioux Falls Police Department, and another involving the Rapid City Police Department.

According to the website for the Office of the Attorney General, all 53 officer-involved shooting investigations that have been completed since December 2006 have been deemed justified.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021. After over a year in Mitchell, he moved to Milwaukee, where he now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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