BILLINGS – The man shot and killed by Billings Police during a standoff that lasted nine hours at Big Bear Sports Center was identified Monday at a press conference that outlined the timeline of the incident.
Billings Police Chief Rich St. John identified the dead man as Frank Joey Half Jr., 30 of Crow Agency.
Half, who has a lengthy criminal history, had most recently been living in Great Falls where he was in a pre-release program, according to St. John.
An autopsy was set to take place at the Montana State Crime Lab on Monday morning to determine how many times Half was shot and whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
St. John said eight officers, which is one more than originally reported, fired shots at Half.
The officers were identified as: Sgt. Harley Cagle, with BPD 14 years; Sgt. Brandon Wooley, with BPD 10 years; Sgt. Nate West, with BPD 10 years; Officer Steve Swanson; with BPD 21 years; Officer Tanner Buechler, with BPD 10 years; Officer Daren Haider, with BPD 8 years; Officer Michael Yarina, with BPD about 8 years; and Officer Ryan Kramer, with BPD 3 years.
This is Swanson’s third shooting incident, according to BPD.
All eight of the officers who fired shots at Half are on administrative leave.
St. John said the timing of the incident presents a challenge to the department because two officers are still on administrative leave from a shooting at the Lazy KT Motel in Downtown Billings last month.
“I expect them to be back on duty sometime this week or next week, so that should help us,” said St. John.
St. John provided further details of the timeline of Sunday’s standoff, which he said mostly remained the same as what was initially reported.
Employees at Walmart on King Avenue told officers they had an altercation with Half when he reportedly tried to steal firearms from the business.
Half left Walmart in a red Mercury SUV and drove across the road to Big Bear, where he reportedly drove his vehicle into the front entrance of the store sometime before 3 a.m.
Officers responded to the scene and could not immediately locate Half, who was hiding in the store. Backup was called, along with members of the bomb squad and SWAT.
Authorities used a large vehicle, called the Bear, to pull the SUV out of the front entrance and block Half inside, according to St. John. During that time, officers reported hearing gunshots fired inside the building from small and large caliber firearms.
Officers deployed multiple non-lethal tactics, such as deploying pepper-spray and the use of an LRAD, which is a device that emits a high pitched screech sound.
MTN’s Aja Goare