BOZEMAN – A tense, long-lasting situation last week after a call about a possibly suicidal man turned into a dangerous high-speed chase across Gallatin County.
On Monday, the man, 19-year-old Nicholas Steinmann, was charged formally with criminal endangerment after hurting himself and an officer.
Bozeman City Police say Steinmann at times pushed his car to over 100 miles per hour after officers from multiple agencies eventually tracked him down.
They say situations like these are hard to predict and can change entirely in moments.
“There’s a risk and that’s something that we consider when we respond on these things,” says Captain Dana McNeil, Bozeman City Police.
Captain McNeil says the risks created by Steinmann after officers found him driving erratically up Cottonwood Road only increased as time passed.
“This individual made it pretty clear that he did not have much concern for our safety, in terms of the way that he was operating his vehicle so that was obviously a big concern for us,” McNeil says.
According to court documents, Steinmann accelerated up to 100 miles per hour.
Once, court documents show Steinmann sped through a gas station parking lot, nearly hitting a deputy’s patrol car.
Then, at Valley Center Road, officers say he turned his right blinker on only to turn left, tearing across all four lanes of Jackrabbit Lane.
All the while, officers followed at a safe distance.
“My officers added a great personal risk to their own safety for this individual and I’m tremendously proud of them,” McNeil says.
At one point while traveling southbound on Thorpe near Hulbert Road, officers say Steinmann stopped, got out of his car and faced them down.
They say a situation like this can escalate even more quickly than that and they have to be ready for it.
“If we believe that somebody is armed with a firearm and has verbalized their desire to either harm the officers or force them into a position to make them harm him, then that is an extremely volatile situation and very dangerous,” McNeil says.
Every effort, Captain McNeil says, was to reach Steinmann with a simple hope: a peaceful resolution.
“The vast majority of those situations are very peaceful. It’s just an individual in crisis. We provide services to those individuals and put them in touch with people that can help them.”
The captain adds the use of careful training paid off.
While Steinmann and one officer received minor injuries, no one else was hurt.
According to court documents, Steinmann was under the influence of alcohol and drugs during all of this.
Steinmann’s bond was set at $150,000; Judge Brian Adams said in court this was due to the concern for public safety.
He will be back in court on May 24.
Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News