Billings police officers shot a man Friday afternoon after an hour-long standoff during which he showed officers a weapon several times and, near the end, reportedly pointed the weapon at officers.
During a Friday press conference, Police Chief Rich St. John said the man was taken to Billings Clinic. St. John said he had “unconfirmed information” the man is dead.
Highway 3 between the airport roundabout and Zimmerman Trail remained closed Friday night while the investigation continued. The roundabout remained open into the airport and into the downtown area and the Billings Heights.
St. John said police received a call around 2:30 p.m. from a woman who said her boyfriend was threatening suicide and may be along the Rims. Her description of the vehicle led officers to the man 10 minutes later.
The man got out of his vehicle several times during the near-hourlong incident, displaying a handgun several times.
A police negotiator spoke to the man for nearly an hour without success, St. John said.
At 3:38 p.m., the man began walking toward officers, ignoring their order to halt. After he reportedly pointed his gun at police, four officers simultaneously fired from 80-100 feet away, St. John said, striking the man.
Officers gave him medical aid, and he was transported to the hospital.
The four officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave.
St. John said he spoke to the officers at the scene.
“They were shaken but unhurt,” he said. “This is new to all of them.”
St. John said that police “know who this man is, and we know his history,” adding police will identify the man — and the four officers involved, one of whom is a sergeant — in the next few days.
If the man is dead, a coroner’s inquest will be held, St. John said.
Police will hold a “thorough, transparent investigation to get the facts,” he said.
Speaking at Billings City Hall, St. John said he did not know if drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident.
“This is a life-changing event for the officers,” St. John said. “We want to make sure we provide them all the support we can. Our officers are the victims of violent crime in this case. They had a handgun pointed at them, and they reacted.”
St. John said he officers’ experience ranged from two years to about 20 years.
A joint critical incident response team led by the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office will head up the investigation once Billings police detectives have completed their work at the scene of the shooting, about a mile west of the roundabout.
“I’m proud of our officers, and the department as a whole,” St. John said. “We had to repurpose a lot of officers working the (Vice President Mike) Pence detail, and retool the crime scene van from logistical support for traffic. It definitely tested our ability and our ability to react to multiple incidents at the same time.”
Simultaneously, police were also working the scenes of two crashes, he said.
The most recent officer-involved shooting involving Billings police was on Oct. 27, 2016.
Billings Police Officer David Raschkow shot Kyle Killough, a 32-year-old armed man from Gillette, Wyoming, at the end of a standoff at the Billings Days Inn Hotel.
Killough died later in a hospital from the three gunshot wounds.
In March, a jury ruled that the shooting was justified.