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PATROLS BOOSTED ON RESERVATION IN AFTERMATH OF GUNFIGHT DEATHS

Erie County sheriff's deputies and state troopers boosted patrols on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation Sunday as the Seneca Nation coped with Saturday's shooting deaths of three of its people.

"The situation throughout the reservation was relatively calm all day," said Maj. Pedro Perez, commander of State Police Troop A, "but we are continuing to maintain a considerable number of patrols throughout the reservation.

"My troopers and I have observed many weapons, including assault weapons, as we have gone from one place to another on the reservation."

Reports of weapons and random shootings have been made repeatedly since the political battle erupted between supporters of Dennis J. Bowen Jr., elected president Nov. 1, and Seneca Party tribal councilors, who impeached Bowen and appointed Karen Bucktooth president.

Bowen declared today "a national day of mourning for all nation members and employees."

Seneca Nation offices on both the Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations are closed for the day.

Bowen said that all the leaders of nations "from across Turtle Island" -- the Iroquois Confederacy -- have sent messages of "condolence, respect and support for all Senecas during this time of turmoil and suffering."

Myron Kettle, 62; Patrick Thompson, 29; and Samuel Powless, 25 -- all supporters of Mrs. Bucktooth -- were shot to death early Saturday.

Reports said they, along with two other men, stormed the William Seneca Building on the reservation with assault rifles. Their gunfire was returned by Bowen supporters who have occupied the building since early November.

"We had 15 officers conducting interviews all day Sunday," said Gerald Mack, chief of detectives for the Erie County Sheriff's Department.

"Many of those interviewed did not want to talk to us, and many of them were very uncooperative. Others were very cooperative," he said.

The funeral for Powless, a high-steel painter who lived in Batavia and on the Six Nations Reserve near Hamilton, Ont., will be held on the Canadian reserve Wednesday.

Services for Kettle will be conducted at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Saylor Building on the Cattaraugus Reservation, and a funeral for Thompson will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the home of Thompson's mother, Patricia Button, on Versailles-Plank Road on the Cattaraugus Reservation.

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