Sunday, September 20, 2009

Laurel, MT: Man kills himself during standoff with deputies

By SUSAN OLP Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Saturday, September 19, 2009 6:30 pm

LAUREL - A man killed himself early Saturday evening during a standoff with Yellowstone County sheriff's deputies.

Sheriff Jay Bell said the 38-year-old Laurel man, whose name has not been released, died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Bell said the Sheriff's Office received a 911 call at about 2 p.m. from a woman who said she had been in a physical altercation with her boyfriend at 1339 Frank Drive in Laurel. She said the man had a handgun and was chasing her.

She was apparently out of the house when she made the 911 call.

The house is in a small cluster of homes in a rural area south of Interstate 90 and west of the CHS Refinery. The house, which is not visible from the road, is surrounded by fields. Bell said the man lived in the residence.

Deputies arrived at the house and began communicating with the man by phone, Bell said.

At that time, an elderly female was still inside the residence. Bell said it was not clear if she was allowed to leave or got out on her own, but the woman came out of the house about an hour to an hour and a half later.

The woman, whose relationship with the man and his girlfriend was not immediately known, was examined by medical personnel on scene and appeared to be OK, Bell said.

He said the Sheriff's Office negotiating team talked with the man by phone for about 4ƒ hours, trying to convince him to come out of the house.

Bell said he and other deputies were told by numerous people at the scene that the man wouldn't come out because he said he didn't want to go back to jail. He was on parole or probation, Bell said.

As the drama continued to unfold, family and friends clustered together outside, out of view of the house.

At about 6:30 p.m., Bell talked with the negotiating team and learned that the team wasn't getting anywhere with the man.

The tactical response team then exited the department's Ballistic Engineered Armored Response vehicle and launched eight or nine shots of tear gas inside the house to try to force the man out.

A magnified voice identified the officers as members of the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office and called for the man to come out.

"You need to come out with your hands in the air," was repeated at intervals each time the tear gas was launched into the house.

At 6:40 p.m., a single gunshot resonated from inside the residence, while deputies waited outside. When deputies entered the house, they found the man in living room dead, with a gunshot wound to the head, Bell said.

He said Sheriff's Office detectives will continue the investigation, and an autopsy will be performed today or Monday.

Bell also thanked the Laurel Police Department, the Laurel Volunteer Ambulance Service and Laurel Fire Department for help with the standoff, and the Montana Highway Patrol and Billings Police Department for covering calls while the Sheriff's Office was handling the situation.

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