Court documents: South Side man shot home invader

2014-05-13T17:06:00Z 2014-08-12T14:10:05Z Court documents: South Side man shot home invaderBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Prosecutors have charged one of two men they say were involved in a Sunday night home invasion that ended with one of the suspected burglars being shot.  

Danny Jo Lira, 37, appeared Tuesday in Yellowstone County Justice Court on charges of felony aggravated burglary by accountability and misdemeanor obstructing a peace officer.

According to charging documents, Lira and a second man, Christopher James Michelotti, forced their way into a home in the 3000 block of Eighth Avenue South at about 11 p.m. Sunday.

Police responded to a 911 call at the residence and heard gunshots coming from inside the home.

A man at the home shot Michelotti, who was brandishing a handgun, in the leg with a shotgun when Michelotti ignored warnings to go away, court records say.

The six occupants of the house — a father, his wife, his son, his 5-month-old grandchild, his son's girlfriend and one of his son's friends — all eventually ended up in the basement after Michelotti and Lira entered the home. 

The father told police that he announced to Michelotti that he was armed and told him not to come downstairs. 

When Michelotti started walking down the stairs, the man shot him and Michelotti fell, firing three shots back that did not hit anyone.

All six of the people who were in the house safely left the house after breaking out a window. Lira and Michelotti were taken into custody after they came out through the front door of the house.

Michelotti was taken to a Billings hospital for treatment. His condition wasn’t immediately available Tuesday and his initial court appearance hasn’t been set.

Police interviewed the man who shot Michelotti and released him, pending further investigation, court records say.

Some of the people in the home where the shooting took place had an encounter with Lira and Michelotti earlier on Sunday, according to charging documents.

Three of the occupants of the house said they had gone to visit Lira at his trailer home on Washington Street earlier on Sunday.

They went to Lira’s house and two of the people reported that Lira invited them in and a second man, later identified as Michelotti, was hiding behind a door with a handgun and appeared to be high on methamphetamine.

One of the men reported seeing drugs and drug paraphernalia at the home, and the two of them said the situation made them uncomfortable, so they quickly left.

During Lira's court appearance Tuesday, Judge David A. Carter set bond at $50,000 and ordered him to appear in District Court to enter pleas to the charges on May 23.

The obstruction charge against him alleges he lied to detectives who were investigating the shooting. 

Lira was on the receiving end of a shooting incident in 2009, when it was alleged that Craig Schmidt fired a gun, grazing Lira's head, after Lira hit Schmidt during a fight while they were both working at Wal-Mart.  

Police arrested Schmidt, but he was later released and not charged after then-Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis Paxinos determined that Schmidt had acted in self-defense and his actions were "supported by Montana law, in both presenting a firearm and in its discharge.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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