Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said Monday that, while statistics weren’t immediately available, the number of violent incidents downtown does not appear to be higher this summer than in recent years.
But what has changed, he said, is that more attention is being given to violent incidents involving transients.
“It was never that newsworthy, and now it is,” he said, noting that some of the incidents have been serious.
At about 1:30 p.m. June 19, Billings photographer Michael Scanlon Sample, 66, was stabbed multiple times at his downtown office at 14 N. 24th St. Sample died a short time later at a Billings hospital.
Zachariah James Wiseman, 23, has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide in Sample's death. A prosecutor said Wiseman was high, possibly on meth, when he is alleged to have killed Sample.
In a more recent incident, police responded to US Bank, 2714 Sixth Ave. N., where an unresponsive man with a blood-covered face was lying on some grass at about 9:15 p.m. on July 8.
Tyrell Albert Little Bird was arrested nearby. Officers reported he was drunk and had a bloody knife in his pocket. He faces a felony charge of assault with a weapon.
On Saturday, police responded at about 3 a.m. to a stabbing in the area of 2301 Montana Ave. Police arrested 51-year-old Johnny Henry Tillman a short time later and prosecutors have charged him with stabbing a woman three times.