Robbery suspect killed; Witness shot in leg


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TallPine
June 25, 2005, 12:41 PM
http://www.billingsgazette.com/index.php?id=1&tts=1&display=rednews/2005/06/25/build/local/25-robbery.inc

Robbery suspect killed; Witness shot in leg
By GREG TUTTLE AND BECKY SHAY
Of The Gazette Staff

A robbery suspect was critically wounded and later died after exchanging gunfire with a sheriff's deputy Friday afternoon.

The man received a head wound. The deputy was not injured.

Before exchanging gunfire with the deputy, the man shot at a witness who was following him after the armed robbery at the Conoco Kwik Way at 446 Grand Ave., Billings police Sgt. Mark Cady said. The robbery was reported shortly after 3 p.m.


Cady said the witness was driving past the Kwik Way when he spotted the man leaving the store and thought something didn't look right. He used a cell phone to call the dispatch center and asked whether something happened at the convenience store. The man stayed on the phone with a police dispatcher while he followed the suspected robber, Cady said.

At the intersection of Seventh Street West and Avenue F, the suspected robber made a U-turn and fired at the witness, Assistant Police Chief Rich St. John said. The witness, whose name was not immediately available, was struck in the leg by a bullet that went through the driver's side door of his Chevrolet Lumina. The man was treated at Deaconess Billings Clinic for a soft-tissue wound, Cady said.

The suspected robber continued west on Avenue F when deputy Roger Bodine drove up behind him, Cady said. Bodine drove his marked sheriff's pickup truck behind the robbery suspect's white Hyundai, Cady said, and they exchanged gunfire at the intersection of 12th Street West and Avenue F.

The suspect's car then crashed into a house on the northeast corner of the intersection. Its back window was broken out, and the front right fender crunched into a brick planter on the corner of the gray house.

The deputy's truck came to a stop in the middle of the intersection. Eight bullet holes were visible in the front windshield. Bodine was interviewed by police, but early on Cady did not know whether the shots were fired from inside or outside the deputy's pickup.

Bodine was in the area when he heard the robbery call on his radio, Sheriff Chuck Maxwell said. Bodine has been a sheriff's deputy for nearly four years and will be on administrative leave until he is ready to return to work, Maxwell said.

"It's very a traumatic thing to be involved in a shooting, and we leave it up to the officer" when to return to work, Maxwell said. "I believe this to be an absolutely justified shooting."

It was unclear how many shots were fired or how many times the suspect was hit.

Detectives found identification on the suspected robber, but on Friday had not confirmed he was the owner of the ID, Cady said. Detectives hoped to fingerprint the man and enter the prints into a national database to try to confirm his identity. He appeared to be in his 50s. An autopsy will be performed today.

"We know what happened, but we don't know why yet," Cady said. "That's what we're trying to find out."

While waiting for a search warrant, detectives could see a handgun inside the Hyundai, Cady said. The car did not have license plates on it, but plates were visible inside the car. Officers had to pull a pair of crutches out of the car to get the wounded man out. Detectives said the man did not use crutches during the robbery.

A small dog in the car was taken by BPD animal control officers. The dog had blood on it, but it was not immediately clear whether the animal had been wounded.

Detectives and officers worked late into the night Friday working to gather evidence from the 12 blocks between the robbery and the crash.

"We have a crime scene that goes from Fifth and Grand to 12th and Avenue F," Cady said. "We're working our way down to this (shooting scene), trying to piece everything together."

Residents in the tree-lined neighborhood dived for cover and locked their doors as the gunfire rang out. One woman said she was stunned by the gunfire.

"I've lived here 40 years and never seen anything like this," Sharon Waite said.

Police officers and sheriff's deputies converged on the scene after the shooting. Traffic was shut down for several blocks in all directions as detectives started to investigate the incident.

"You sure never expect gunfire around you," said Lana Cummins as she sat on the front step of her mother's home near the intersection of 12th Street West and Avenue F shortly after the shooting. "It scared me half to death."

Cummins said she was just pulling her car into her mother's driveway when she saw the incident unfold. She said she threw herself to the floor of her car when she heard the gunfire. When it stopped, Cummins ran inside her mother's house.

Her mother, Dorothy Speelmon, said she was in the kitchen canning meat when she heard a commotion outside. She stepped out her front door to check on the noise and saw the deputy firing at the suspect.

"The bullets were flying," she said.


Copyright The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises

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Good awareness of the "witness" :)

I don't think Billings is a very good place for hold-ups :p

Good thing the (ex)robber didn't take the witness' cell phone away and use it against him ;)

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Standing Wolf
June 25, 2005, 09:21 PM
I don't think Billings is a very good place for hold-ups

Nope. If I were going to take up a life of crime, it'd be in a big city in a state with lots of leftist extremist so-called "gun control" laws and people who vote for representatives of the Democratic (sic) party: it'd still be a stupid thing to do, but the odds would be somewhat less awful.

BluesBear
June 26, 2005, 09:05 AM
Dontchya just love a story with a happy ending?

Alex45ACP
June 26, 2005, 09:20 AM
That poor dog! :( :p

Mongo the Mutterer
June 26, 2005, 09:28 AM
ditto on the dog... Too bad the citizen was shot, but the BG isn't going to waste the time of the legal or psychiatric professions, or the citizen's money.

BTW if "bullets were flying" why didn't the witness have her butt DOWN? :p Sounds like a bit of embellishment to me...

frenchwrench
June 26, 2005, 01:09 PM
Now I remember why I miss Montana....... ;)

grimjaw
June 26, 2005, 01:21 PM
Now that's a guy who doesn't deserve a dog if I've ever seen one.

jmm

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