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Custer Residents In Shock Over Deadly Shooting

September 6, 2011, 5:59 PM by Derek Olson

Custer Residents In Shock Over Deadly Shooting
CUSTER, SD - The normally quiet city of Custer erupted in an Old West style shoot out early Tuesday morning. A 22-year-old man is dead after being shot by a South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper.

Authorites say it began at the Custer County Courthouse, ended in a flurry of gunfire a few blocks away near 6th Street and Mount Rushmore Road, and left a trail of damaged property behind.

Most of the people in the tiny tourist town were asleep when the silence was broken.

"About 3:15, I woke up to three shots. It went 'boom, boom, boom,'" Dawn Steckler said.

Steckler lives just a few blocks from where the shooting ended and didn't think much of the commotion happening outside of her window.

"I just thought it was kids with firecrackers so I turned around and went back to sleep. My husband went to work at about 4:30 this morning and said something definitely happened. He said you couldn't even get close to downtown," Steckler said.

And many of the community's 2,000 people are in shock after Tuesday's events.

"Total surprise; Custer is a really safe community. We don't even lock our doors on our vehicles," Jim Understock said.

Understock owns Frontier Photo and couldn't get to work because of the investigation taking place outside his storefront.

"I just want to get down and find out what's going on in my store and if there's anything I can do," Understock said.

And as the people of Custer come out of their homes to see the aftermath of the deadly shooting, there are many questions that still need answers.

"Bottom line is we'd like to know what the heck happened here," Understock said.

Authorities say the 22-year-old shooter was the only casualty in the shootout. His name has not been released yet.

A full investigation into what happened is underway.

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