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Joel LaFromboise, 17, poses for a picture in an undated family photo. LaFromboise was shot and killed early Saturday morning.

LaFromboise spent Father's Day making funeral plans for 17-year-old

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Joel LaFromboise was supposed to be home at midnight. But six minutes past his curfew Saturday, the Moorhead teen lay dying in a stranger's apartment from a gunshot wound to his chest.

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LaFromboise had gone uninvited into Vernon Allen's apartment. A struggle ensued when he didn't leave, and Allen, 47, shot the 17-year-old after he grabbed the barrel of the .12-gauge shotgun.

Usually LaFromboise is the last one home, locking the door behind him. So when he didn't come home, mother Cynthia Homesky began to worry.

There was still no word from her son as the day went on Saturday, so she called police at 3:17 p.m. to report him missing.

"Fifteen minutes later the police came back to her house and said there was a shooting in the area and it was my son that was shot and killed," LaFromboise's father, Ralph, told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead on Sunday.

Ralph LaFromboise spent Father's Day reeling in shock, making funeral arrangements for his eldest son instead of tending the grill.

"You can't describe how it feels to lose a son or one of your children," he said. "You expect to die before they do. I moved my kids from Minneapolis to Fargo to keep them out of trouble."

The family isn't sure why Joel LaFromboise wandered into at least three strangers' apartments before his death. He does have friends in the area of Romkey Park, just down the street from the apartment complex at 1107 19th St. S. where he died.

Witnesses have described Joel LaFromboise as possibly being under the influence of something, saying he was unresponsive.

Family members say they don't believe he was using drugs or alcohol.

"My son was a good kid," Homesky said. "He didn't go looking for trouble."

Standing at 6 foot 3, Joel LaFromboise could be seen as threatening, which is misleading, his father said, calling his son a role model to younger teens he befriended who "looked up to him."

"People felt like he was intimidating just because he was a big kid," Ralph LaFromboise said.

Police have said Allen will not face criminal charges at this time in connection with the shooting, which angers Joel LaFromboise's family.

"I'm upset that nothing's happening to this guy," Ralph LaFromboise said. "He murdered my son. My son's a juvenile, this is a grown man, he can't be scared of my son. My son didn't have no weapon."

Allen told The Forum on Saturday that he shot Joel LaFromboise after the teen grabbed the barrel of the gun and would not leave, saying he pulled the trigger out of fear the gun would be turned on him.

That doesn't make sense to Ralph LaFromboise.

"If he can reach his shotgun, how come he can't reach his telephone and call 911?" the father asked. "Maybe he could have just shot to scare him."

Joel LaFromboise would have been a senior at Moorhead High School this fall. The family moved to Moorhead this past month from Fargo, where Joel LaFromboise had attended Woodrow Wilson Community High School.

The teen, whom friends and family called "J ROC," loved to draw and enjoyed writing and playing music on his guitar. He liked to make jokes, ride his bike and play video games.

Family members expect to have a funeral Wednesday, and are still working to break the news to family members in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"I'm having a hard time, like reeling," Ralph LaFromboise said. "It hasn't sank in with me yet."

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