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Gunman pronounced dead at hospital

Chief said no law enforcement fired, investigation ongoing

 

April 7, 2014

Eric Seidle

The empty crime scene at the US Bank building after an ambulance and some officers were seen leaving the location where the armed man was surrounded.

(Last updated 9:30 p.m.)

The Havre police chief said the unidentified gunman who held off law enforcement for nearly 21 hours was pronounced dead at a Havre hospital.

Acting Chief Gabe Matosich said the gunman who had faced police at US Bank in Havre in a standoff since about 11 p.m. Sunday was taken to the hospital by ambulance after law enforcement officers heard a shot ring out at 7:42 p.m. No law enforcement fired a shot, Matosich said.

Matosich said the event started Sunday night when a police officer attempted to make a traffic stop for a minor traffic violation. The man stopped his car and fled the vehicle after a short pursuit, Matosich said.

Havre police officers negotiated with the man for the entire time until a unit from Great Falls stopped in to spell them, he said.

The officers were continuing to negotiate with the man when the shot rang out, Matosich said.

The man has not yet been identified.

Matosich said 1st Street will remain blocked from 1st to 5th Avenue until the scene has been fully investigated. He said about 9:30 p.m. a state crime unit was on route and should be arriving within an hour.

Matosich said he expected the street to be reopened within about three hours.

(Last updated 8:45 p.m.)

The crime scene is now cleared of the armed man. Havre police refuse to confirm or deny the condition of the suspect. The Havre Police Department dispatcher said the HPD will release information when they complete a report. There was no estimate of when they would send the report.

Many of the law agency vehicles have left the area, though the downtown streets are still closed off. A mobile headquarters established on the west side of the building is now dismantled. Caution tape has been put up around the crime scene.

(Last updated 6:30 p.m.)

KHEW radio in Rocky Boy just reported that Great Falls Police Special Unit just flew through Box Elder headed toward Havre.

Update: Officers from the Great Falls Police Department's High Risk Unit are headed to Havre to take part in the effort apprehend the man with a gun who has shut down downtown business.

Great Falls police spokeSman Sgt. Bryan Slavik told the Great Falls Tribune that Havre police requested additional support from officers from the unit.

"We have a small group of officers from our High Risk Unit that are responding to Havre now - not to take over, but just to aid and assist with manning in this situation. These are officers that are trained in that particular type of situation, so there's some technical expertise as well. We're going up there to give them a hand."

Montana Highway Patrol, Hill County Sheriff's Department and U.S. Border Patrol are already assisting Havre officers.

Activities in Havre's downtown ground to a halt this morning as police were in a standoff with a man holding a gun in front of the US Bank Building.

Downtown businesses were closed and traffic was being rerouted down 2nd Street from 1st to 5th avenues.

The incident began shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday after police were summoned to deal with an incident involving a pistol at a local tavern.

Details are unclear, but reports said the man with the pistol left and was found and cornered by police within a block. The man also allegedly held a gun to another patron's belly before exiting the establishment.

Officers, and other law enforcement, had their guns pointed at the man all night.

"We have a standoff, basically, right now," acting Havre Police Chief Gabe Matosich said this morning. "The individual is armed and dangerous, and so we basically want to keep everybody out of the immediate area down there. It's kind of a dangerous situation."

Matosich said officers are continuing to try to talk the man into putting his gun down.

"That hasn't happened yet, so we're hoping to continue to talk to him and talk him down, but, in the meantime, we need to keep everybody from going to work that work in that immediate area down there, keep all the businesses closed and the traffic directed around."

Havre police, Montana Highway Patrol and Hill County Sheriff deputies were on the scene all night. This morning they were reinforced by U.S. Border Patrol and FBI agents.

There appeared to be hopeful signs late this morning, as the officers lowered their guns and an officer talked to the suspect. The man remained in front of the building, however.

An officer sneaked up on the man this morning, but the suspect detected him before he could take him into custody.

Groups of officers using riot shields attempted to sneak toward the man several times but retreated each time.

Matosich said businesses on Main and 1st Street in the blocked off area were closed, but any businesses in the region might want to close or lock up to avoid the gunman entering their building if he started to move.

Compounding the problem, a tractor-trailer, rerouted from 1st Street, struck a utility pole as he swung into 2nd Street from 5th Avenue. NorthWestern Energy crews were working on the problem this morning.

People were ordered to leave the area, but a reporter heard police yell at least six times "put your gun down."

Police yelled to the man that they wouldn't arrest him, but would take him to the hospital.

Eric Seidle

Police respond to the intersection of 1st Street and 3rd Avenue in Havre at 11:30 Sunday night near where an armed man is refusing to surrender.

It wasn't clear whether the suspect had threatened others with his weapon, but he was seen pointing the gun to his head.

Police had pistols and shotguns aimed at him while they tried to talk him down.

The man was wearing a drawn hoodie and blue jeans.

Patrons at Shamrocks tavern on 1st Street were also asked late Sunday night to get off the street for safety reasons.

Hill County sheriff's deputies, Montana Highway Patrol troopers and Customs and Border Patrol agents assisted Havre police throughout the night.

A crowd at the Wells Fargo parking lot was asked to leave around 11 a.m. this morning to avoid the possibility of someone being hit by crossfire in the chance there might be shots fired.

(Havre Daily News staffers George Ferguson, Eric Seidle, Tim Leeds and John Kelleher all contributed to this report.)

 

Reader Comments

1 — 25 of 64

yes writes:

You officers... wow. Great Job all. It had to be probably the longest and most stressful hours in their lives.

leroybarryboy57 writes:

I throught there was no crime in havre. HPD did the right thing...

1truefriend writes:

All u making rude comments u don't even kno the situtation plz keep ur comments to urself. He is/was my best friend, I never prayd so hard in my life that it wud turn out good I prayd 4 robert to jus give up & get help I prayd 4 all offericers involved 4 there safety & every one involved 4 all their safety. I just wish every thing wud of turned out differently I wanna thank the havre pd and all other agencies involved for your time and patients in tryn to preserve the life of my special friend

imjammer writes:

This is for the person called trash. For your information I have never been arrested, maybe you have. I grew up in Havre and graduated from High School here. Served 8 years in the Marines, then 20 years with the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. In my experience this 21 hour standoff was excessive, the longer a person is given a platform to exploit the situation the greater the chance it ends in the suicide happening. This is a free country and everybody is entitled to an opinion.

oldtimer writes:

I have lots of respect for the police officers involved. They showed a tremendous amount of patience and fortitude staying with gunman around the clock and trying to communicate with him. Instead of put him down, shoot him with tranquilizers, darts, rubber bullets, etc. So many know it alls-so little common sense.

Dayvster writes:

21 hours? .... seriously, small town enforcement... ended wrong because they failed!

ColinOlmstead writes:

Well done havre Police Department! Thank you for doing everything you could to preserve life and keep the peace. I am sorry it ended this way but obviously you did everything you could to preserve life. This is what its all about. Many cities would have shot this man but you did not and it shows you care. I respect this. Sad day but thanks for being professional and compassionate.

deflave writes:

The Palace had to look like an episode of Gilligan's Island by the time this ended. Only without attractive people. And no millionaires of course.

Adrienne writes:

Actually a 20 hour stand off is not unheard of. We had a stand off of about the same amount of time a few years back when a man was threatening to jump off a bridge in Salem. And he wasn't even armed. Law enforcement was able to talk him down from the ledge eventually. Unfortunately it didn't work out so well this time. Havre police are to be commended for doing their job. They did what they needed to do to minimize a potentially bigger tragedy.

Trash writes:

There are laws the officers have to follow as well. They can't just use bean bags or rubber bullets whenever they want. They did exactly what they were suppose to do. Anyway, all the people that are leaving negative comments on here about law enforcement have all been arrested before. That's why they complain about the cops. It's always the police doing bad stuff, never them. Everyone reading these comments is getting a good view of Havre people are like. Congrats, you're trash.

GetReal writes:

The Police force did the best they could, this isn't South Central LA...this is HAVRE MONTANA. This doesn't happen everyday...I'm sure the business owners understand the danger the public was in. Thank you for your service everyone involved.

Weenty writes:

You Havreites wanted resolution to the situation, well you got it.

TannerC writes:

It is good to know that the Havre cops are not as trigger happy as other cops in the country. There was no reason to escalate the situation. He was not an immediate threat to anyone. That guy has a mother and family out there somewhere. If it were your son or brother, or close friend, would you really want to pressure the situation unnecessarily? The more pressure you put on someone who is acting irrational like that, the more likely they are to make impulsive decisions.

pleasemv writes:

IF it was your child, brother or sister would you like the police to resolve it quickly regardless of the out come. Lives were at risk here, not only the gunman but also the officers. If the officers would have used force you would have accused them of being too aggressive. When you are a law officer many times it is a no win situation. Take your children to the police station introduce them to an officer and say thank you. Set a good example teach your children respect for the lAW.

thrasnike writes:

Good job officers

KR85 writes:

My thoughts and prayers go out to not only the Thomas family but every law enforcement officer that was involved. No one could have predicted which way this ordeal would end. May everyone involved find peace.

jvischer writes:

R.i.p cousin

doc writes:

So sad. I pray for Mercy on this man's soul, comfort to the police and law enforcement- who were out there doing the best they could. Shame on you who pass judgment! I am proud to live where a man's life was valued more than business - damage to roads and all the other materialistic crap.

reallyhavre writes:

75% Of these comments are just sick. Who cares about being stuck in a business or having to take a little detour. Your local pd department were keeping your ungrateful selfish people safe. Doesn't anyone have compassion for the poor family involved. As for the family involved I am truly sorry. For the officers I am grateful that you are protecting these people no matter how undeserving they probably are. God bless you and God help the others.

imjammer writes:

This never should have lasted more than 2 hours. Beanbags, rubber bullets and other non-lethal options are out there. To let this standoff last 20 hours is unheard of. Law enforcement in Havre allowed this guy to disrupt business and traffic for way too long. The way this situation was handled must be investigated and scrutinized by city officials and the public.

blue writes:

Prayers to everyone involved...

2smart4u1 writes:

Wow, we sure have a lot of really smart people in Havre, telling TRAINED law enforcement officers how to do their job. Tell you what, why don't all of you become officers of the law, since you're so smart. The best law enforcement officer you who think you know would ever hope to be is Barney Fife or Roscoe P. Coltrane. Your comments remind me just how many dumb people live here.HAVRE HAS IT...dumb people! Thanks LE personnel for all you do, you walk the walk instead of puff a bunch of hot air.

curious writes:

Anyone know how the conflict was resolved? Eye witnesses?

Concerned writes:

My thoughts and prayers go out to the young man and his family. Thank you law enforcement for doing everything that you could do, in your power, to keep everyone (young man included) safe. Sometimes things are out of our hands.

hmmmmm writes:

You can stop with the negative comments now. Stand off is over with sad consequences.

 
 
 
 
 
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