'Multistate felon' charged in Billings, Pictograph Cave shootings

2014-07-17T15:15:00Z 2014-07-28T09:57:04Z 'Multistate felon' charged in Billings, Pictograph Cave shootingsBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A man police said was involved in two shootings Tuesday — one on a busy street in Billings, the other less than an hour later at a state park outside city limits — made an initial court appearance Thursday on a charge of attempted deliberate homicide.

Kelly Dee Megard, 52, is also charged with three counts of felony criminal endangerment.

He appeared by video from the county jail in Yellowstone County Justice Court, where Judge Pedro R. Hernandez set bond at $500,000.

Senior Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Brett Linneweber said that Megard is a “multistate felon” with nine felony convictions, some of them violent offenses, in four states dating back to 1981.

“He was in our community as a parolee … when he committed a senseless, violent crime against an innocent victim and her children,” Linneweber said when requesting the bond.

Assistant Public Defender Casey Moore appeared with Megard at the hearing and did not object to the bond, saying the matter would be discussed when Megard is arraigned in District Court.

Megard is scheduled to be arraigned before District Judge Michael G. Moses on July 25.

Charging documents give new details in both shootings, which happened Tuesday afternoon on Rimrock Road and at Pictograph Cave State Park. The park is about an eight-mile drive southeast of downtown Billings off of Coburn Road.

No one was injured in either incident, but bullets came within inches of hitting two people, police said.

According to charging documents, surveillance footage shows Megard at Shipton’s Big R, 216 N. 14th St., where he bought ammunition at 12:31 p.m. on Tuesday.

Sixteen minutes later, police responded to the first shooting. In that incident, Megard shot at a 32-year-old mother and her two children, ages 6 and 7, as he chased them in a car up and down Rimrock Road, according to Billings Police Chief Rich St. John.

The chief said Wednesday in a press conference that Megard was under the influence of methamphetamine and fired three shots into the woman’s sport utility vehicle — with two of the bullets coming within inches of hitting the mother and one of her children.

Charging documents say two bullet holes could be seen in the driver’s side door of the vehicle and that the driver’s side passenger window had been shot out.

At one point in the chase, the woman pulled into a parking lot at Rocky Mountain College. The parking lot had only one exit and, as the woman was backing up to get away, Megard rammed her vehicle, court records say.

The woman drove over some grass, onto 17th Street West and then turned east onto Rimrock Road, where she reached speeds of 50 mph as she fled from Megard, according to prosecutors.

The woman eventually turned onto Ryniker Drive and Megard drove away.

In the second incident, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s deputies responded at 1:39 p.m. to Pictograph Cave State Park, 3401 Coburn Road, where a person had started shooting at people near the park’s museum after driving a car off of Coburn Road and down a ravine, charging documents state.

According to witnesses, Megard was shouting incoherently and firing shots into some bushes.

A sheriff’s deputy saw a man, identified as Megard, in a field near some trees and bushes and heard six or seven shots fired, court records say.

People at the park were told by authorities to go into the park’s museum.

Deputies and Montana Highway Patrol troopers arrested Megard and took a 9mm handgun from him, charging documents say. Law enforcement officers learned that he was on parole for a conspiracy to assault a peace officer conviction in Cascade County.

Charging documents say he was driving a maroon Plymouth Acclaim, not a Buick passenger car as was initially reported.

After being taken into custody, Megard gave a statement to a Billings police detective, saying that he had allegedly used methamphetamine two days before.

He also reportedly told the detective he had bought the 9mm handgun five days before from a person he knew, and that he believed people had been following him and trying to kill him for three days.

In the interview, Megard said he saw a woman driving an SUV and claimed he saw a male passenger in the vehicle with a gun. He had intended to get the guy before the guy got him, Megard told the detective.

He said he fired three shots at the SUV. When shown a picture of the vehicle that was shot on Rimrock Road, he confirmed it was the SUV he shot, prosecutors said.

“The defendant claimed he did not intend to hit the female and claimed he did not know there were children in the back seat,” charging documents say.

Sheriff Mike Linder said Thursday that Megard has been tied to a weapons complaint from earlier Tuesday.

In that incident, a man reported that someone had pointed a handgun at him on Zoo Drive on Tuesday morning. The man identified Megard from a photo lineup, Linder said.

The sheriff said his office has sent a report on the incident to the county attorney’s office.

Police say Megard is homeless and had been living out of his car.

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

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