A Washington man suspected of randomly shooting a hitchhiker near Glasgow over the weekend made his initial court appearance in Roosevelt County Justice Court on Monday morning.
Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier said Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, 52, of Tumwater, Wash., was arraigned before Judge Traci Harada in Wolf Point on a charge of driving under the influence and faces a felony charge of assault with a weapon in Valley County.
Harada set bail for Danielson at $50,000 on the felony assault charge and $685 for the DUI.
Meier planned to pick Danielson up on Monday afternoon and book him into the Valley County jail later in the afternoon.
Raymond Dolin, a 39-year-old West Virginia resident, is hitchhiking and writing a memoir called "The Kindness of America." He was sitting along Highway 2 west of Glasgow on Saturday evening when a man drove up in a pickup truck, shot him in the arm and left, Meier said.
"He was sitting down to have a little lunch, and this guy drives up. He thought he was going to give him a ride, and, as he approached the vehicle, the guy pulls out his weapon and shoots him. It's as simple as that," Meier said.
Dolin was able to flag down a passerby and was taken to Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow with what Meier described as "a very non-life-threatening injury."
A nurse said on Monday that he was not taking calls or accepting messages, and a hospital spokesman said later in the day that Dolin was not listed on the patient roster.
Law enforcement officials were able to track the pickup truck to Culbertson after Fort Peck tribal officers spotted it in Poplar. Roosevelt County Sheriff's deputies arrested its driver, identified by Meier as Danielson, in Culbertson about four hours after the shooting.
Meier said it appears that there is no connection between the two men and described the shooting as random. Danielson could make his first court appearance in Valley County as early as Tuesday.
Danielson was apparently headed to Williston, N.D., for work tied to the oil boom, although Meier said he offered few details.
The shooting follows another random attack earlier this year in which a popular 43-year-old teacher from Sidney was allegedly kidnapped and killed by two Colorado men on their way to the Bakken.
As the two Colorado men wait trial in that case for the alleged murder of teacher Sherry Arnold's death, the case has stoked worries that a once-quiet corner of Montana has been irreversibly altered by the oil boom.
Crime rates across western North Dakota and Eastern Montana have spiked as thousands of workers flock to a region that has become one of the top oil-producing areas of the country.
But Meier said Danielson's quick arrest by deputies in Roosevelt County 100 miles away from the shooting shows law enforcement is keeping up with the changes.
"We're still the wonderful people in Montana we've always been, and we'll get through this," Meier said. "Things are going to happen whether there's the Bakken or not."
Meier did not know if any words were exchanged between the alleged shooter and victim before Dolin was shot. He said they did not know each other.
Dolin's father, Melvin Dolin, declined to speak about his son's plans, saying he had been working on his photography.
"I'd rather you eventually get that story from him. He had some ideas about that," Melvin Dolin said.
His son had left home in Julian, W. Va., last week bound for Washington state, said Melvin Dolin. He took a bus to the edge of Montana and intended to work his way to Washington from there, the father said.
"He was on the way across the country taking pictures," Melvin Dolin said, adding that his son's travel plans had been flexible. "He was going to make up his mind as he travelled along. But he didn't get that far."
The sheriff's office had identified Danielson as a resident of Olympia, Wash., but he said in court that he was from Tumwater, Wash., Harada said.
Danielson has criminal convictions in King County, Wash., for assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, obstruction of law enforcement and exhibiting or carrying a weapon with intent to intimidate. Records show he was sentenced in 2005 to eight months in jail on the charges.
Gazette reporter Zach Benoit contributed to this report.