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Missoula homeowner recalls holding intruder at gunpoint during neighborhood search

Posted at 3:14 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 18:53:19-05

MISSOULA – The Missoula homeowner who held a man who allegedly fled from Missoula law enforcement at gunpoint says he found the man hiding in his furnace room.

The incident began after a vehicle that was reported stolen near Missoula was spotted on Mullan Road by a Missoula County Sheriff’s deputy who was patrolling near Pulp Mill Road.

The suspect had reportedly pulled to the side of the road, but after refusing verbal commands from the deputy, the driver sped away, driving through a construction site, several fields and through fences before coming to a stop on Haven Heights where he then fled on foot into a nearby home owned by Josef S. Crepeau.
Mullan Road Pursuit
A man who led authorities on a Monday morning pursuit and foot chase near Missoula was stopped by an armed homeowner. (photo credit: Missoula County Sheriff’s Office)

Crepeau, who said he saw law enforcement activity near the front and back of his house, said he opened his door and learned that they were looking for a suspect in the area before he heard a noise in his home.

“Immediately prior to learning of the search being conducted on my property I heard a noise in my home that I attributed to my dog chasing my cat,” Crepeau said in a letter sent to MTN. “My interpretation of the noise quickly changed. I felt I should convince myself the subject or subjects of the search were not its cause so I decided to search my home for intruders.”

At that point, Crepeau says he retrieved his personal handgun and began to search his house, starting at the top floor and ending up in the basement. Once he got there, he realized that the door to the outside was open. After searching his basement further, Crepeau says he discovered a man hiding in the furnace room of his basement.

“I commanded the intruder to exit the furnace room with their hands raised and escorted the individual up the basement stairs and out of my home,” Crepeau said. “At that point I gained the attention of law enforcement personnel and they took over the situation.”

The man who refused to identify himself to authorities was arrested and taken to the Missoula Detention Center.

Crepeau said that he was thankful to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, the Montana Highway Patrol and the Missoula Police Department for their help in apprehending the suspect. He added that he encourages anyone considering using a firearm for personal defense to only do so after successfully completing appropriate training by a “competent and professional firearms instructor.”

“Please remember that with great power comes great responsibility. The decision to use firearms for personal protection should never be made without a full understanding of the power and responsibilities involved.”

The suspect appeared in Missoula County Justice Court on Tuesday and is now facing multiple charges including felony counts of burglary and theft.

You can read Crepeau’s full letter below:

Dear Fellow Missoulians,

On the morning of December 17, 2018 an individual being pursued by local and state law enforcement led authorities to my neighborhood. Recognizing law enforcement activities were taking place in and around my front and back yards I briefly opened my front door and learned authorities were seeking the whereabouts of one or more individuals. Immediately prior to learning of the search being conducted on my property I heard a noise in my home that I attributed to my dog chasing my cat. My interpretation of the noise quickly changed. I felt I
should convince myself the subject or subjects of the search were not its cause so I decided to search my home for intruders.

I secured my personal handgun and executed a search of my home starting on the top floor and ending in the basement. Upon entering my basement I noticed the door to the outside was ajar. I proceeded to search my basement and ultimately found an intruder hiding in my furnace room. I then made use of my handgun to tip the balance of power in my favor. I commanded the intruder to exit the furnace room with their hands raised and escorted the individual up the basement stairs and out of my home. At that point I gained the attention of law enforcement personnel and they took over the situation.

I am grateful for the exceptional professionalism displayed by members of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, the Montana Highway Patrol, and the Missoula Police Department during and after the activities noted above. It is through their diligence that we are able to feel safe and secure as members of a community.

I strongly encourage any citizen who desires to use their Second Amendment rights to lawfully employ firearms for personal protection do so only after successfully completing appropriate training by a competent and professional firearms instructor. Please remember that with great power comes great responsibility. The decision to use firearms for personal protection should never be made without a full understanding of the power and responsibilities involved.

Josef S. Crepeau