The man who took his own life Monday after shutting down downtown Havre in a 21-hour standoff with law enforcement was a 25-year-old man on parole in Cut Bank for a rape charge.
Fergus County Coroner R.J. “Dick” Brown said in a press release that Robert Jay Thomas II, 25, died Monday in Havre of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Department of Corrections Communications Director Judy Beck confirmed this morning that Thomas was wanted for absconding Jan. 14 from his parole to Cut Bank.
Thomas was sentenced Aug. 28, 2008, for sexual intercourse without consent, according to the Internet information site homefacts.com.
Beck said he was listed as a Tier 1 sex offender, the tier indicating the lowest likely to re-offend.
Missoula County Clerk of Courts office confirmed that he was charged in 2005 with having sex with a person younger than 16 when he was at least three years older.
Information is sketchy due to government removal of information from online records after the subject is dead. A call requesting more information from the Cut Bank office of the state division of adult of probation and parole had not been returned by printing deadline this morning.
The standoff occurred after a Havre police officer tried to pull over Thomas about 11 p.m. Sunday for a minor traffic violation, Matosich said Monday night.
Thomas attempted to elude the officer, leading to a short pursuit, then stopped and fled from the vehicle. When the officer caught up to him outside of the US Bank building on the 200 Block of 1st Street, Thomas pulled the gun, forcing the officer to back off and call for assistance and starting the nearly day-long standoff.
Matosich said the officers were continuing to negotiate with Thomas, trying to get him to put down the gun and surrender, when they heard a shot ring out at 7:42 p.m. Monday. Havre paramedics on site transported him to Northern Montana Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The standoff shut down traffic on U.S. Highway 2 where it runs through Havre as 1st Street, with law enforcement blocking off traffic from 1st through 5th avenues and south to 2nd Street along the blocked section. Businesses on Main and 1st streets were shut down as the standoff continued, with other businesses in the area also shutting down or locking doors for extra safety.
Matosich commended the Havre residents and businesses for cooperating with — and assisting — the law enforcement officers during the standoff. Along with people obeying the street shutdown, with most traffic diverted along 2nd Street and some along Main Street during the shutdown, he said businesses also provided law enforcement with food, water and port-a-potties during the standoff and negotiations.
Agencies responding included the Havre Fire Department, Hill County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Great Falls Police and Cascade County Police.
Matosich said other entities such as the Havre Department of Public Works and Montana Department of Transportation also provided assistance.
Matosich said the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation is continuing the investigation into the incident. Bringing DCI in is a standard procedure in these cases, and it is important to allow an outside agency conduct the investigation, he said.
Matosich said a search of the car Thomas was driving found some ammunition.
Matosich said that once the investigation is complete, Coroner Brown will schedule an inquest into the death of Thomas.
Montana law requires an inquest into a death involving commission of a criminal act or while the deceased was in custody or being taken into custody by law enforcement.