UPDATE 2p.m. WORDEN — Authorities have identified the victim of an apparent homicide in Worden early Friday morning as Erica Yurian, 22, and the man shot by a sheriff’s deputy as Thomas Hilger, 49.

Both died of gunshot wounds, Sheriff Mike Linder said Saturday. The investigation into the incident is ongoing. According to people who knew the victims, Hilger was the owner of the 406 Bar and Yurian was his girlfriend.

Two deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave, pending an inquest into the incident, which is standard operating procedure. The deputies are Martin Stuart, who has been with the Sheriff's Office just over a year, and Tony Watson, who has been with the Sheriff's Office for more than eight years, Linder told the Billings Gazette.


INITIAL REPORT: One of the most common questions on Worden’s Main Street on Friday was, “What happened last night?”

Some residents speculated about the apparent homicide and officer-involved shooting behind the 406 Bar in hushed tones; others refused to discuss it.

As conversations percolated with varying theories, a common theme emerged in this community of about 600 residents: This is a community on edge.

“It’s just shocking,” said Shirley Reiter, 76, manager of the Mini Merc on Main Street. “I didn’t want to believe it. It’s something you don’t want to think happens in a tight-knit community like Worden.”

Reiter has lived in the community for more than 50 years and can't recall another homicide in town.

While investigating a report of suspicious activity in the alley behind the 406 Bar at 2430 Main St. in Worden, deputies questioned a man in a car about 4 a.m. who pulled a gun, said Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder.

The man was shot by deputies and then transported to St. Vincent Healthcare where he later died. During an investigation of that shooting, investigators found the body of an apparent homicide victim in a vehicle.

By early Friday afternoon, a team of at least six detectives, a crime-scene van and the Highway Patrol remained on the scene as investigators widened the perimeter of the crime scene with yellow tape behind the 406 Bar. The bar was closed for business as a detective in an unmarked car guarded the crime scene.

Kayla Fredericks, a 23-year-old stay-at-home mom, said she was friends with both the dead person and the man who was shot.

“It’s just bizarre,” Fredericks said. “This is a really great community with great people who care about each other. I would hate to have it marred by one incident.”

Diana Jansma, 62, has lived in Worden nine years and resides just two blocks from where the homicide occurred.

“I am scared,” Jansma said. “Why are people so violent they need to shoot each other? It’s scary when people get so angry. I’m somewhat confused as to why it happened.”

Sarah Fowler moved to Worden about five years ago after living in major metropolitan areas, including Boston, New York and Miami. She fell in love with the solitude and wide open spaces that define Montana. Friday’s incident unnerved her.

“It makes me feel like no place is really safe,” she said. “It’s going to make me more aware of my surroundings.”

Sarah Cooper, 35, sat under a shade tree just outside the perimeter of the crime scene as detectives scoured the area. She was waiting to walk her children home from school. They would normally walk home through the crime scene area.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Cooper who was born and raised in Worden. “It’s kind of weird in a small town.

Linder said Friday that the man shot by deputies was transported from the scene near the bar by an ambulance to the Pryor Creek Bar parking lot, where he was transferred to a St. Vincent Healthcare Help Flight helicopter shortly after 5 a.m. and flown to a Billings hospital.

Investigators are working with the county attorney's office and have applied for and are awaiting search warrants, Linder said.

No one else was injured during the altercation, Linder said.

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(24) comments

MontanaFever

The BEST out come!

The cops are constantly worried about drunk drivers, but in the mean while people are shooting at each other.

Lets count how many have died from murder/homicide vs. drunk driving in Yellowstone county this year to date...... anybody???? ANYBODY????

sassback

Let's figure out if you are implying that cops should worry less about drunk drivers. Wow.

Eric the Infuriated

Your point is that you think that shootings deserve a higher place on the radar than drunk driving because people in Yellowstone County have actually died from homicide in quantities greater than DUIs this year.

Actually, the point YOUR missing is that the LEOs have to enforce ALL the laws. It's not a cafeteria-style thing where they tell their watch commander, "Hey, today I'm only going to enforce sexual assaults. You know, boss, because there's too many laws to enforce all of them!"

The idea that some laws are important enough to "overshadow" others is the problem we already have in the US. It slowly creeps into overshadow of one run-down portion of the city by areas where taxes are paid and infrastructure is kept up...which then is translated by the oppressed into racism and hate for capitalism since they don't get "their share." The one promise the Government MUST make good on is "promote the general welfare," which is done by enforcing all laws in all locations - equally.

bout time

Eye for an eye....

ruby

I certainly hope that Montana Fever isn't implying that the officers should worry less about drunk drivers.

Phenomenal-Woman

Montana Fever,
Just how is it that LEO's are responsible for babysitting every single person? Do you think they should have super powers and predict who and when someone is going to commit a murder? Here's a thought for you about drink and distracted driving, a vehicle may not be a firearm, but when driving drunk or distracted it could easily be a high or low speed moving "bullet" that could kill the driver or others on the road. Do you know all local law enforcement officers personally and well enough to say all they care about is drunk drivers? Don't drive distracted or while intoxicated. It's not worth it. May the souls of the deceased rest peacefully.

Phenomenal-Woman

*drinking

MontanaFever

Totally missing my point, but not surprising.

truthisgood

This article is poorly written.

we meet again

@truth
I kind of felt the same way

rememberthefallen

and these are the days of our lives........please keep bickering with eachother, i need more entertainment when im bored.

chele

Love triangle + alcohol= deaths??

billmillerjr

good work by the deputy---we wont have to support this perp the rest of his life----saves taxpayer's money

Dr Livingston
Dr Livingston

The article seems to be written poorly only because of the chronology of how much info gets released. The cops aren't releasing the info soon enough so that whole story can be reported.

ruby

Actually Montana Fever, your "point" is poorly executed and rather ignorant. You do realize that these types of crimes usually happen prior to any notification to law enforcement. They don't just drive around asking people if they intend on murdering someone or inflicting bodily harm.

I think our LEO's do an amazing job. They wouldn't have to give DUI's or investigate crimes/ murders if people would learn to behave in a civilized manner!!! Raise your children properly and our crime rate will decrease.

bout time

Chele.... That's my thoughts exactly. Alcohol can ruin sooooo many lives.....

SounDad

I knew Tom and I knew he was a wild guy but never expected this.

Gramsy

Our officers have to protect themselves or we wouldn't have any. I live in this little community and this incident is truly a shame. She was a beautiful, happy young girl, from a good family that got mixed up with the wrong guy. But how did she know? He has been out here for a long time and many people knew and liked him. If you live the bar life, the drug life, etc., I think your chances of something bad happening to you or around you are a lot higher. It is just an overall shame. My thoughts and prayers are with all family members and friends.

miraclesfun

My prayers are with both family's

MTGirl01
MTGirl01

She broke off their relationship, he was mad, the rest is very sad history

greganwortman
greganwortman

yep and add in a little public humiliation and it is a bad break up

facts and opinions
facts and opinions

Jeeze doc, I guess the cops should hurry and release everything they have before the evidence and investigation is complete so that the gazette can write a better piece, huh?

greganwortman
greganwortman

Hahahaha

mbcofer

Who cares how the article is written!!! Some of you make me sick and sad to be part of the human race!!! As if I should have to say it, but think back to school and realize the main point of all of this!!!!!! ERICA is gone, too soon, and article or no, she will not be brought back by a few well placed words. Geez, stop and support the families!!!

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