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Sturgis is a small town in rural Meade County, South Dakota, has a population of around 6,000, and is located less than forty miles north of Mount Rushmore. In late-May 1998, radical local Edgar Halstrom and his small militia (which his sons James and Isaac were part of) took eleven local citizens hostage in the town bank located on the corner of 1st and Main Streets. The FBI arrived and closed off a multi-block radius around the bank while negotiations with Halstrom proceeded at a grinding pace, with Richmond, Virginia A-SAC John Hartley arriving to take command of the FBI forces in the area for the duration. Special Agent Art Jeffries, an undercover agent within Halstrom's group, managed to convince Halstrom - through his son James - to surrender to the FBI surrounding the building, but was abruptly cut short when Hartley ordered the SWAT team under command of Francis Blake to storm the bank, killing all but Jeffries and the remaining hostages. Halstrom's son James died in Jeffries' arms as Blake reluctantly told him of Hartley's order, at which point Jeffries stormed out and struck Hartley, which resulted in Jeffries' reassignment on returning to Chicago a week or so later.

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