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Man in custody after Billings drive-by birthday shooting

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Shotgun blasts erupting at a birthday party over the weekend in Billings resulted in one person in custody.

Salimon Franko Nava, 24, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple counts of assault and criminal endangerment in Yellowstone County District Court. County prosecutors allege that Nava punched a 17-year-old boy and endangered the lives of dozens of people with gunfire. 

Members of the Billings Police Department responded June 18 to a drive-by shooting reported on the 1100 block of Broadwater Avenue, according to charging documents. Some 40 to 50 had gathered for a birthday, and were still at the scene when police arrived. Nava, who was attending the party, allegedly got into a fight with a teenage boy which came to blows. Nava is alleged to have thrown a punch that split the boy’s head open above his eye.

Nava then got into his SUV, drove to the front of the property where the birthday was being celebrated, and allegedly fired several rounds from a shotgun. While those attending the party tried to find cover, Nava drove away. Several people at the party allegedly identified Nava as the suspect.

While police were trying to find Nava, court documents said, they received a call about a disturbance at a restaurant on the 1600 block of Grand Avenue. They found Nava at the restaurant and he was arrested and booked into Yellowstone County Detention Facility that same day.

Nava allegedly told police that he did go to the party, but denied ever firing a gun. He said there was a fight and he was jumped by several men. Investigators found a 12-gauge shotgun in the SUV suspected to be driven by Nava, finding one spent shell and one live round still chambered.

County prosecutors have charged Nava with two counts of felonious assault with a weapon, one count of felony criminal endangerment and one count of misdemeanor assault. District Judge Jessica Fehr set Nava’s bond at $35,000 at his arraignment Tuesday. Nava faces up to 20 years in prison, if convicted of the most serious offenses.

Weapons complaints and offenses have consistently been on the rise in Billings over the past several years, according to data from BPD. From January through May, officers responded to nearly 275 weapons calls. Last year ended with police receiving nearly 1,000 weapons calls, up from just 558 two years prior.

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