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Helena police continue investigating shooting that left two dead at birthday party

Posted at 7:55 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 22:05:54-05

(HELENA) Helena Police Department leaders said Wednesday it appeared a shooting that left two people dead on the city’s west side was a murder-suicide.

Police say a woman was shot by her estranged husband, who then shot himself.

The disturbance began Tuesday evening, at the woman’s home in the 1100 block of Hauser Boulevard. Helena police said she was hosting a birthday party, with several children and other adults in attendance, when her estranged husband arrived.

Witnesses told officers the man pulled out a handgun and ordered some of the people there to leave. The others at the party ran out of the house.

“People left the house, and that’s when we believe he went out and shot the female and then shot himself,” said HPD Chief Troy McGee.

Neighbors called 911 around 6:30 p.m. to report the disturbance and gunshots. When officers arrived, they found both people in the front yard. Medical units responded to treat them, but they were found to be deceased.

McGee said no one else was injured in the incident.

A makeshift memorial had been created in front of the home by Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s very tragic,” McGee said. “You have families involved, other people involved. The neighborhood up there was very concerned about what’s going on. We did our best to canvass the neighborhood and let people know what was happening, that everything was safe.”

The Lewis and Clark County coroner has not yet released the names of the two people killed. The bodies were taken to the state crime lab in Missoula.

HPD said officers were in the area late into the night, processing evidence and interviewing witnesses. McGee thanked neighbors for their help.

“The neighborhood up there, the citizens up there – we talked to a lot of people up there, they were very cooperative, everybody worked very well with law enforcement,” he said. “We really appreciate the cooperation of the citizens in the area.”

McGee said police are still investigating whether there was a history of domestic violence or protection orders involving this family. They are also looking to speak to more witnesses.

“There’s still quite a few things that we have to do to ensure what our preliminary investigation shows is what occurred,” said McGee.

A power outage that hit downtown Helena Tuesday night affected some HPD police operations, like their ability to check wanted persons or criminal histories. But McGee said the outage didn’t interfere with their investigation in this case.