BILLINGS – At a press conference Wednesday morning, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said two officers shot a man who “raised and swung” a shotgun in their direction.
The shooting happened in the parking lot of the Lazy KT Motel, 1403 First Ave. N., shortly after 1 a.m.
The man who was shot has been hospitalized. St. John said he was listed in critical condition at St. Vincent Healthcare. His name has not been released.
The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.
St. John said the investigation is ongoing, but preliminary information indicates the shooting was the culmination of several separate incidents at the motel throughout the evening.
Officers were first sent to the motel at about 10 p.m. Tuesday for a report of shots fired. Officers learned that a man had fired one shotgun round into the roof eve of the motel building and left the area in a black pickup truck before officers arrived. Nobody was injured in that shooting.
At about midnight, St. John said, officers were again sent to the motel for a report of a man walking around the parking lot with a shotgun. The man had left before officers arrived, but the officers stayed in the area in case he returned.
At about 1 a.m., the black truck pulled into the motel parking lot. A person believed to be the driver got out of the truck and walked across the parking lot, St. John said.
As officers were approaching the truck they saw the dome light inside the truck flicking on and off and they heard a shotgun being racked.
As they got closer to the truck they saw the passenger door was open and a man was sitting in the passenger seat with a shotgun held vertically between his legs.
The officers, who were about 30 feet from the truck, ordered the man to drop the shotgun numerous times.
“The suspect refused to comply. He looked at the officers, raised and swung the shotgun toward them,” St. John said. “At 1:08 a.m., both fired their patrol rifles striking the suspect multiple times. It’s unknown how many shots were fired at this time. The suspect did not fire.”
The officers were not injured, St. John said, and nobody else was involved.
St. John identified the officers as Matt Edwards, a 5-year member of the department, and Jeremiah Adams, a 4-year member of the department.
St. Johns aid he was “absolutely” confident the officers actions were justified.
“We have two separate calls where we have a shotgun being displayed and being fired in a motel area,” he said.
The chief part of the investigation will determine whether the incident at the motel was related to a shooting incident Tuesday afternoon. Details of that incident were not immediately available.
The officers “were faced with somebody who threatened their life with a shotgun that we know who had fired earlier in the day and they responded appropriately,” St. John said.
One lane of First Avenue North in downtown Billings was blocked early Wednesday while police investigated a crime scene.
The department had not released the nature of the incident by 4:30 a.m., but several patrol vehicles and the department’s crime scene van were outside the Lazy KT motel. Crime scene tape was placed around the entrance of the motel.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.