MISSOULA — Two men were booked into the Missoula County jail Friday in connection with the shooting of an East Missoula convenience store clerk during an apparent robbery attempt.
Christopher Lee Burch, 23, faces charges of attempted deliberate homicide and robbery, while Preston James Hanna, 24, faces accountability to both of those charges. Each is held on suggested bail of $500,000.
Burch is accused of being the rifle-toting man dressed in black who walked into the Ole’s store in East Missoula shortly before 3 a.m. Friday and shouted to the clerk, “Give me all the money,” according to Missoula County Sheriff’s Detective
The clerk, who had been cleaning the beverage counter, simply went back to his work. “So the suspect shot through a sunglasses case, striking the victim in the upper body,” Johnson said. The man ran from the store without taking anything, he said. Hanna drove a getaway car, he said.
The clerk was rushed to St. Patrick Hospital, where he underwent surgery. As of early Friday evening, his condition had been upgraded to critical but stable, Johnson said. “He’s moving the right direction. ... The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to the victim and his family.”
The clerk was able to tell authorities that he thought he knew the man who had shot him, Johnson said. Authorities also received a lot of information from the anonymous Crimestoppers tip line, he said.
Missoula County Sheriff’s deputies and SWAT team members conducted surveillance at Burch’s home in the 1700 block of Cooley Street in Missoula, and Hanna’s in the 600 block of Montana Avenue in East Missoula, Johnson said.
“In both situations, the arrests were made without incident,” he said. A scoped hunting rifle believed to be the gun used was recovered during the arrests, he said.
Surveillance video shows a man walking into Ole’s and shooting, he said.
Both men are scheduled for an initial appearance Monday afternoon in Missoula County District Court.