BILLINGS — Negotiations are under way for the voluntary return of a man accused of shooting himself then claiming to be the victim of a drive-by shooting, a Montana prosecutor said Friday.
Suspect Ray Dolin, 39, of West Virginia has been charged with evidence tampering, making false reports and obstructing an officer in Valley County. He was last reported to be under the care of a Veterans Affairs hospital in Wyoming. His phone was not accepting messages.
Under a proposal being negotiated with Dolin's attorney, the defendant would not be arrested but instead appear voluntarily in state District Court within the next two weeks, County Attorney Nickolas Murnion said.
He declined to name the attorney, saying only that it was a lawyer from Billings "not interested in speaking with media and I'm going to respect that."
Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier believes Dolin, a freelance photographer, wanted to gain publicity for a photographic memoir he was writing.
In court documents, Murnion said Dolin acknowledged to investigators that he fabricated his story about a pickup truck driver shooting him without provocation as he hitchhiked along U.S. Highway 2 west of Glasgow on June 9.
With his photography business failing, Dolin told the investigators that he came to Montana to kill himself with a .22 Magnum revolver he had bought in West Virginia.
However, he said he missed his heart and hit his upper arm instead, according to his statement five days later. He then threw the gun into a nearby field.
Dolin apparently had his first aid kit on top of his gear at the time and used it to bandage himself before authorities arrived, authorities said in the court documents, citing an earlier interview with Dolin.
Within hours of the shooting, a 52-year--old man from Washington was pulled over by Roosevelt County deputies in a pickup roughly matching a description offered by Dolin. He was charged with felony assault and driving under the influence and released from jail 13 days later after pleading guilty to the DUI charge.
"The defendant described how he wanted to die when he found out someone had been arrested for shooting him," an affidavit filed by Murnion states. "Ray said he should have come forward but didn't."