A Billings judge on Thursday set bond at $10,000 for a disabled veteran who pleaded not guilty to shooting a woman, causing an “obvious bullet hole in her chin” that a prosecutor said required surgery.
Appearing in District Court by video from the county jail, 27-year-old Christopher Ryan Gross pleaded not guilty to felony criminal endangerment in connection to the July 30 incident.
“The bullet traveled down her spine, and she had to undergo surgery,” Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Ingrid Rosenquist said, arguing for a $25,000 bond. “He allegedly told officers that he was angry at the government and was spinning a loaded gun when it went off and struck his girlfriend.”
Charging documents say Gross was drunk at the time — a breath test registered a blood alcohol concentration of 0.220 percent.
The prosecutor said Gross has no prior convictions but had to be subdued with nonlethal rounds during a standoff with officers last year.
Assistant Public Defender Roberta A. Drew argued for a $5,000 bond, saying Gross is a disabled veteran with limited income and that he could live with his family if released from jail.
Addressing District Judge Michael G. Mosses, Gross acknowledged the 2013 standoff with law enforcement.
“I was trying to be shot — suicide by cop,” Gross said, adding that since the incident he has been meeting regularly with a counselor through Veterans Affairs.
“I was scheduled to see him on the fourth of this month, but I’m in here,” Gross said from the jail.
After discussing the matter for several minutes, Moses agreed to set bond at $10,000 on several conditions, including that if bail is posted, Gross work to be admitted into Yellowstone County Veterans Treatment Court and make all appointments with his counselor.
“I view that as perhaps the most critical issue concerning this release order, understood?” the judge said.
“Understood,” Gross said.
“This also is critical — no firearms,” the judge continued.
“Roger,” Gross replied.
Charging documents say Yellowstone County sheriff’s deputies arrested Gross after responding to a Lockwood home, where they found a blood-covered woman, later identified as Gross’ girlfriend, with an “obvious bullet hole in her chin.”
Gross initially refused to let a deputy read him his rights “because he believed only people under arrest need their rights read and he was not at that time under arrest,” court records say.
He later told the deputy he, as a disabled veteran, was very upset with the government.
Gross went on to say that he called a local television station to talk about his experience in the military and, in order to make a statement to his girlfriend, grabbed a handgun from the kitchen, according to charging documents.
He didn’t check to see whether the gun was loaded, and while sitting on a couch and swinging the gun up and down it went off with a round hitting his girlfriend, court records say.
Gross said he then called 911.