Gunman pronounced dead at hospital
Chief said no law enforcement fired, investigation ongoing
April 7, 2014
(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.
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.)