Details are beginning to emerge about a Friday shooting that left three dead and two injured in the town of Lodge Grass on the Crow Reservation.

"The investigation, though ongoing, has already determined that the incident was related to methamphetamine and gang-related activity," Crow Tribal Chairman Alvin "A.J." Not Afraid Jr. said in a media briefing Saturday night in front of the scene of the shooting. The incident serves as a reminder of the "devastating effect" drugs have on communities, he said. 

"The coming days and weeks will prove the strength of the Crow community to find healing and hope," Not Afraid said. "We, today, we're feeling pain and loss." 

The shooting took place at a home in Lodge Grass at around 4 p.m. An FBI press release, sent out on Saturday, stated that no arrests have been made and that the investigation into the shooting is ongoing. 

Not Afraid, who said he is from Lodge Grass, offered his condolences to the family and friends of all those involved and said that his own family had been affected. 

"This area has produced a lot of well-educated people, a lot of good work ethic people and then, just the home-style life here," he said. "Right now it just hits home so hard." 

Officials have not confirmed where the incident took place, but crime scene tape could be seen Saturday morning in Lodge Grass surrounding a house and yard on the northwest corner of the intersection of Helen Street and Second Avenue. Boards had been bolted into place over doors and windows of the house by the time Not Afraid's press briefing began.

Sandra Yi Barker, a public affairs specialist with the FBI, said in an email Saturday afternoon that she could not currently release any more information about the shooting, including details about victims and the suspect or suspects. 

As a result of the shooting, Not Afraid Jr. issued an emergency curfew for the Crow Reservation beginning Friday night and extending until further notice. 

Until it is lifted, the curfew is effective from from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.  The chairman said he expected the curfew to remain in place for three to four more days. 

The curfew does not apply to travel along I-90 through the reservation, Not Afraid said. 

Not Afraid's announcement stated that the emergency curfew was being instituted at the request of law enforcement. Saturday night he specified that BIA had asked for the curfew in order to inhibit meth-related activity and try to provide a sense of safety for residents of Lodge Grass. 

Vehicles traveling on roadways within the "exterior boundaries," of the Crow Reservation during curfew hours are subject to being stopped and all occupants being ordered to present valid identification upon law enforcement request, according to the announcement.

Not Afraid said he was unaware of any previous instances of emergency curfews being instituted on the Crow Reservation. 

One of the shooting victims was in critical condition Saturday, Not Afraid said. After the shooting, victims were taken to the hospital in Crow Agency for treatment, he said. Autopsies for two victims were scheduled for Saturday, according to Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis. 

In his media address, Not Afraid Jr. noted the lack of adequate law enforcement and emergency health services on the reservation, citing the fact that half of local BIA law enforcement positions are currently vacant.

"They're stretched thin from this community all the way to Pryor, which is approximately an hour and a half from here," Not Afraid said. "That also includes the medical services." 

He said budgetary changes had been made to enable the recent hiring of three new tribal law enforcement officers, to begin working this week. "This does not solve the problem in its entirety. We shall continue to amend our budget for emergency medical services and rehabilitation services," Not Afraid said. "We're going to do everything in our power to not only serve justice, but to be more proactive than reactive."

Additionally, Not Afraid said a lack of working opportunities has contributed to problems in communities like Lodge Grass. He said he planned to "help entrepreneurship to get the communities reactivated again." 

The FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Montana Highway Patrol and Big Horn County Sheriff's Office are all involved in the investigation. Not Afraid thanked those agencies and affiliated medical services for their response to Friday's shooting. 


Night Reporter

General assignment reporter for The Billings Gazette.