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Billings shooting leaves 1 dead, officer wounded

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Posted at 4:45 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 18:45:05-04

Update 10:30 a.m. Tuesday

Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said at a press conference Tuesday morning that 13 officers were involved in the fatal shooting incident late Monday night.

St. John described the suspect who was killed after opening fire at officers as a Billings man with a criminal record who was well-known to law enforcement and who was wanted on a parole violation. The man's name was not released.

The police chief also said the first officer to trade gunfire with the suspect was grazed in the shoulder by a bullet and has been treated and released. It was the first time in recent memory that a Billings police officer has been directly struck by gunfire, the chief said.

After the initial gunshots from both the suspect and an officer, numerous officers arrived at the scene. The suspect eventually stepped out of his vehicle and began firing at officers when 13 officers, including three sergeants, returned fire, St. John said. It was not immediately clear how many times the suspect was hit by police gunfire, but he died at the scene.

Following department policy, all 13 officers have been placed on paid leave while the investigation is being conducted. The officers join six others who were also placed on paid leave following another recent fatal shooting on May 23.

St. John said the number of officers on leave due to the two fatal shootings, along with regular absences due to vacation and other leave, has stretched the department's staffing thin. The department currently has about 160 sworn officers.

"Right now we are in dire straights," the chief said about the department's staffing level.

During the press conference Tuesday, St. John also shared information on another incident involving an armed man who engaged in a standoff with police. Watch the full press conference in the video below:

Billings fatal police shooting, standoff press conference 5-31-22

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BILLINGS - A man was killed and an officer wounded in a police shooting late Monday, the second fatal officer-involved shooting in the city in just over a week.

Police said in a press release early Tuesday that the most recent incident began shortly after 11 p.m. when officers attempted to make a traffic stop on a vehicle, which then fled.

Officers did not initially pursue the vehicle, the press release states, but the vehicle was later located in the area of North 22nd Street and Burnstead Drive, a few blocks north of North Park.

An officer made contact with the vehicle in an alley in the 1900 block of Burnstead Drive, the press release states, and the suspect fired and struck the officer. The officer returned fire.

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"The suspect remained in his vehicle for several minutes refusing to comply with Officer commands," the press release states. "The suspect then exited the vehicle and again began firing at Officers. Officers returned fire striking the suspect. The suspect was pronounced deceased on the scene. The Officer injured has been treated for his wound."

Police Chief Rich St. John will hold a press conference regarding the shooting Tuesday morning. The press conference will directly follow the press conference already scheduled at 10 a.m. regarding the Solitia Street standoff on May 29, 2022.

On May 23, a 35-year-old man who led officers on a pursuit was killed when officers opened fire after police said he pointed a gun at an officer.

RELATED: Billings man killed by police officers identified

Here's video of the scene of the shooting late Monday:

Scene of fatal Billings police shooting 5-31-22