Bemidji couple held in fatal shooting of relative on Christmas Day

29December 2020

BEMIDJI, Minn. — A husband and wife are now in custody after a fatal shooting of a relative on Christmas Day.

According to a report from Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel, dispatch received a call from a woman — later identified as Janelle Johnson, 36, of Bemidji — at approximately 12:11 a.m. Saturday.

She reported that around an hour earlier she and her husband, Austin Johnson, 36, of Bemidji, had traveled to their brother-in-law Jesse Farris’ residence in Northern Township just north of Bemidji to confront him over alleged domestic abuse between him and Janelle’s sister.

A verbal argument ensued, which soon turned physical, the report said. It is then alleged that Janelle brandished a firearm Austin had brought with him to the residence and fatally shot her brother-in-law, Farris, 48, according to the release.

The Johnsons then left the residence and later reported the incident to law enforcement in the early hours of the following day, Dec. 26.

The results of a preliminary autopsy on Farris completed by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

Janelle Johnson is currently being held in the Beltrami County Jail under a charge of second-degree murder. Austin Johnson is currently being held in the Beltrami County Jail with a charge of aiding an offender. Both are expected to be arraigned in Beltrami County District Court on Tuesday.

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