Police: 2 homeless people found dead in Rapid City

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Two Rapid City residents were found dead Sunday morning. The man and woman are believed to have been homeless.

Police found Ernie Evans, 58, around 10:15 a.m. near the I-190 bridge at Exit 1C. A passerby had reported a man lying on his back, and police arrived to find Evans dead.

Connie Red Nest, 54, was found lying against a tree to the west of the bridge.

Police do not suspect signs of trauma or foul play. Autopsies have been scheduled to more accurately determine the cause of their deaths.

“Every time we respond to an incident like this, it’s a tragedy for our community,” says Chief of Police Karl Jegeris. “Our agency has now investigated the unattended deaths of four members of our homeless population amid this winter’s cold temperatures. All have been either near downtown or along the city’s greenway area.”

Jegeris and Assistant Chief Don Hedrick have each released a letter regarding  troubles with recent "disorganized efforts" to address homeless issues. 

The RCPD joins the Rapid City Mayor’s Office in its commitment to working toward long-term solutions that will have a direct impact on the safety of the city’s homeless population.

“These deaths are a tragic reminder of the impact of homelessness on our community,” says Mayor Steve Allender. “It also underscores the importance of the work and commitment of Rapid City Collective Impact and the call-to-action by all of us to address this problem and develop workable solutions in a strategic and effective manner.”

Jegeris also says that if the public sees someone in need of help, to contact law enforcement.

"I would ask that the public - when they see somebody intoxicated, especially when it's cold out, and they appear that they might not have a place to go - that you contact law enforcement," Jegeris says. "We've got options available to us. We can place an individual - if they're intoxicated  - to [the Detox Program]. The Cornerstone Rescue Mission has also been a very good partner, and they work with us to make sure that no one will be left out in the cold."

This incident remains an open and active investigation.

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