Suspect in Billings home invasion arrested in Havre after pursuit

2014-05-27T13:39:00Z 2014-08-12T14:10:05Z Suspect in Billings home invasion arrested in Havre after pursuitBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A man wanted by local and federal authorities after he was shot during what prosecutors said was an attempted burglary was arrested on Monday after a vehicle chase involving four law enforcement agencies near Havre.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Christopher James Michelotti, 30, was in custody at the Cascade County Detention Facility in Great Falls on a $500,000 aggravated burglary warrant out of Yellowstone County, as well as federal charges. Information on the federal charges was not available as of 3:20 p.m. because Michelotti had not yet been arraigned and the case remained sealed.

Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom said that his deputies received a request from Chippewa Cree Law Enforcement for help at about 2:15 a.m. with a vehicle chase that started on the Rocky Boy reservation.

A tip on Michelotti

Chippewa Cree police Chief Rick Gardipee said in a news release that officers knew Michelotti was wanted and considered to be a fugitive when they received a tip early Monday that he might be at a residence in Box Elder.

While watching the home, the officers spotted Michelotti and three others leave and get into a vehicle. Gardipee said that the vehicle’s driver refused to stop and sped off when officers tried to pull it over.

When the vehicle entered Hill County, sheriff’s deputies and the Montana Highway Patrol joined in the pursuit, which went along Highway 87 and through Havre, drawing the police department into the chase before it left town heading southeast, Brostrom said.

At some point during the chase, the vehicle hit a spike strip but continued driving “for some time on flattened tires through Havre,” Gardipee said.

Vehicle finally stops

The car continued along Bullstrap Road, southeast of Havre, until it spun off the north side of the road and stopped.

Brostrom said that Michelotti and the driver, a Box Elder woman, were taken into custody shortly before 3 a.m. Authorities questioned and released the woman into the custody of tribal officers.

According to charging documents filed earlier this month, on May 11 Michelotti and Danny Jo Lira, 37, forced their way into a South Side home, where an occupant shot Michelotti in the leg with a shotgun.

He was taken to Billings Clinic and, at the time, hadn’t been charged with any crimes. It wasn’t clear whether he was released from the hospital or if he left on his own, but authorities began actively searching for him about four days later, when the warrant was issued.

Lira has been charged with felony aggravated burglary by accountability and misdemeanor obstructing a peace officer.

An initial court appearance had not yet been set for Michelotti as of 1:30 p.m.

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

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