Farmer held Eddy County murder suspect at gunpoint until police arrived

Court documents accuse Nicholas Poitra of shooting and killing 30-year-old Troyal Thumb on Sunday night inside Rindy's Sheyenne Bar in central North Dakota.

Nicholas Poitra.
Lake Region Law Enforcement Center photo

SHEYENNE, N.D. — Nicholas Poitra was arrested Wednesday, Feb. 22, ending a manhunt for the 45-year-old man accused of killing another man inside a small-town bar in central North Dakota.

A law enforcement source told WDAY that Poitra was taken into custody around noon Wednesday, near a Wells County farm he allegedly broke into after the fatal shooting of Troyal Thumb.

WDAY learned that a farmer just over the line in Eddy County spotted Poitra walking near his farm, and held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

The farmer declined to comment other than to say he's glad it's over.

Poitra was wanted on numerous charges, including murder, robbery, and seven counts of terrorizing.


Court documents accuse Poitra of shooting and killing 30-year-old Thumb on Sunday night inside Rindy's Sheyenne Bar along U.S. Highway 281 in Sheyenne, a town roughly 30 miles southwest of Devils Lake.

Rindy's Sheyenne Bar in Sheyenne, North Dakota.
Matt Henson / WDAY News

Poitra fired a single shot at Thumb with a short-barreled shotgun, court papers said.

Poitra and Thumb arrived at the bar separately, police said. Neither had finished their drinks before getting into a verbal argument after Thumb reportedly tried to help Poitra fix a boxing machine in the bar , according to police.

"Kind of the mystery, we don't really know what took place," said Eddy County Sheriff Paul Lies. "We know Mr. Thumb approached the machine, tried to get it to work. We know the suspect was also talked to about the machine, and a short time later, the conversation turned deadly."

"Over a boxing machine inside the bar, they couldn't seem to get it to work," Lies said.

Police said Poitra held seven other people in the bar — including a child — at gunpoint and demanded cellphones and a set of car keys. Police alleged that Poitra grabbed the security footage on the way out of the bar before getting away in a stolen vehicle.

The sheriff said Poitra crashed the stolen vehicle near a Wells County farmstead.

Poitra was being held at the Lake Region Correctional Facility in Devils Lake as of Wednesday evening. Court records did not list an attorney for him.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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