3 shot to death in South Dakota town; former mayor

3 shot to death in South Dakota town; former mayor

Three individuals were tragically shot to death in a small town in South Dakota, with a former law enforcement officer and ex-mayor now facing charges for the killings. Jay Ostrem, 64, has been detained on a $1 million cash-only bond, charged with three counts of first-degree murder, according to a statement from South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.

The victims, identified in a probable cause affidavit, include two brothers aged 26 and 21, and a 35-year-old man. Their names have not been released as authorities are still notifying family members. The affidavit did not clarify any connection between the third victim and the brothers.

Ostrem, who has a long history in law enforcement spanning over two decades in Wyoming and South Dakota, served as the mayor of Centerville approximately 15 years ago. The exact dates of his tenure as mayor were not immediately available.

The incident unfolded late Monday night when a man in Centerville called police at 9:44 p.m. to report that his brother had been shot by “a guy from across the street.” The caller, who remained on the line with the dispatcher, later reported that he had also been shot before the call abruptly ended.

Ostrem was apprehended shortly thereafter. Authorities found an AR-style rifle on the ground near him and a handgun in his pocket. Officers then proceeded to the home from which the call had originated and discovered the three victims.

According to the affidavit, Ostrem’s wife informed police that a neighbor named Paul had sexually assaulted her the previous Thursday. She disclosed the assault to Ostrem on Monday night, which reportedly led him to leave the house in a rage. The affidavit noted that Ostrem’s wife did not know if he was armed when he left, although he had access to weapons at home and possibly in his vehicle.

Centerville, a small town located about 40 miles south of Sioux Falls, is now grappling with the aftermath of this violent episode. Ostrem’s initial court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday. It remains unclear if he has legal representation, as calls to a phone listing for him went unanswered.

The community is in shock as details continue to emerge. Ostrem’s background in law enforcement and his previous role as mayor add a complex layer to the unfolding narrative. His wife’s allegations of sexual assault by one of the victims have further complicated the case.

Ostrem’s law enforcement career included roles as a Turner County Sheriff’s Office investigator and a deputy. He was also involved in the 2010 trial of Ethan Johns, who was convicted of killing a sheriff’s deputy and sentenced to life in prison. Ostrem’s law enforcement certification expired in 2016, according to South Dakota Searchlight.

Adding to the complexity of Ostrem’s past, he was previously embroiled in a legal battle when the former police chief of Centerville filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. The lawsuit, which was settled out of court, alleged that Ostrem had made sexually inappropriate comments to the police chief over the course of a year.

As the investigation continues, the small town of Centerville is left to process the tragic events and the involvement of a former community leader. The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the inquiry, and more information is expected to be released as the case progresses.

The incident has also raised questions about the mental state and motivations of Ostrem, who reportedly smelled of alcohol and had blood on his left hand when he was arrested. The presence of multiple firearms and spent shell casings at the scene further underscores the violent nature of the crime.

The community is now left to mourn the loss of three lives and grapple with the implications of a former mayor and law enforcement officer being charged with such a heinous act. The legal proceedings will likely shed more light on the circumstances leading up to the shootings and the broader impact on the town of Centerville.

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