Bozeman Police chief on fatal shooting: Worst-case type call officers can encounter

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jan 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-04 20:54:09-05

UPDATE: 1/4/19, 5 P.M. – Gallatin County Sheriff/Coroner Brian Gootkin identified the man who died Friday morning on Summer View Lane as 31-year-old Eric David Sauerhagen.

BOZEMAN – One man is dead after an officer-involved shooting early Friday morning while responding to an alleged assault call.

Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford said it was about 11:44 pm on Thursday when they received a call from a man in his 20s who said he was being assaulted at his home on the 3100 block of Summer View Lane.

“911 was connected with a male subject, who was reporting that he was being attacked by his roommate,” said Crawford. “And who was reported to be intoxicated. He made a statement that he was attempting to choke him.”

Crawford said when police arrived at the home the victim was outside but the suspect was inside.

William Carey, a neighbor, said he saw and heard officers outside around midnight.

“There were several police cars out front, as well behind the house,” said Carey. “Officers with their weapons drawn, spotlights on the house. (It) went on for a fair period of time. I didn’t really know what was going on other than obviously something was happening at the house across the street.”

According to police, officers communicated with the suspect from outside the house but the man was not cooperating. Some of the adjacent properties were evacuated during the incident for the neighbor’s safety.

“They were in contact with that subject for quite awhile giving instructions to comply and come to the door, come to the officers,” said Crawford.

“It was cautious,” said Carey. “I mean, it looked like the police were under control but at the same time, we did not want to be too close to any windows or anything like that. Obviously, there was something very serious happening at the time.”

Crawford said at approximately 12:07 a.m. the suspect came towards the officers at the front door with a hatchet and handgun “posing a legal threat”. In response, a Bozeman Police officer shot the suspect and he was pronounced dead at the scene. None of the seven officers responding were injured.

“Last night is an example of what no officer wants to encounter, nobody wants to see anybody lose their life,” said Crawford. “This is the worst-case type call that an officer can encounter, a suspect, and I am very grateful that I don’t have an injured officer or worse.”

The case is under investigation by Montana Division of Criminal Investigation and the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office. Until then the officer will be on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News