UPDATE: HPD provides more information on central Helena shooting

HPD investigating Friday morning shooting involving juveniles
Posted at 9:19 AM, Mar 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-24 19:42:08-04

Update 5:30 p.m. - Helena Police have provided more information regarding an early morning shooting in central Helena.

Early Friday morning, police were dispatched to the neighborhood between Helena Middle School and Helena High School for reports of gunfire two juveniles were ultimately taken into custody as investigators worked to collect evidence spread over several blocks.

"I don't have an accurate number. Besides many shots, quite a few over approximately, you know, a six-block radius and that area of town," said Helena Police Captain Randy Ranalli.

Just before 4:00 a.m. on Friday, Helena Police Department received numerous reports of gunfire from residences around the area of Billings Ave.

Police say some residents recognized it as gunfire, while some others mistook it for a backfire from a car, but none the less, Helena Police knew something was wrong.

"It was many callers calling, reporting the same thing and the same types of sounds. So with that, our officers, like any time, still respond and they responded to that area. And when they responded to that area, they were able to locate the two suspects," said Ranalli.

Officers arrived at the scene and were able to identify two juvenile males, one unarmed, the other with a weapon, as suspects and took both into custody at approximately 4:30 am.

"We have reports of gunshots and we have not necessarily damage or anything that we couldn't find. But we did find, you know, evidence at those scenes that a gun was fired. And then at the other scenes, yes, there was evidence corroborating that some residences were struck by gunfire and other property," said Ranalli.

HPD didn't identify the weapon but mentioned that there was a rifle cartridge at the incident.

Right now, investigators do not know if this was a random incident, or if anyone specific was targeted, but police say there is no current threat to the public.

"Nothing to indicate right now that it was any targeted or houses or individuals were targeted. You know, still under investigation. We're trying to gather all that, but it looks like it is possible. It could be just random, a random act of them firing a weapon," said Ranalli.

Ranalli also mentioned his gratitude to all those involved in the arrest and those still investigating.

"Our officers, and our responding officers, did a wonderful job responding to the area, getting the area secured and getting the suspects located and in custody. So, you know, the detectives are still out there doing a good job of investigating those scenes," said Ranalli.

Original story - Helena Public Schools says there will be an increased police presence near some schools Friday while Helena Police investigate an early morning shooting.

Just before 4:00 a.m., Helena Dispatch received numerous reports of gunshots in the 1100 block of Billings Ave. which is between Helena High and Helena Middle School.

“Officers responded to the scene and located two juvenile males. One of the males had a firearm in his possession,” said HPD in a press release.

The two juvenile males are currently in custody.

“Please know our schools were not involved in any way and school will continue as normal,” wrote Helena Public Schools Superintendent Rex Weltz in a letter to parents Friday morning. “Please don’t hesitate to contact your school’s principal if you have any questions.”

HPD says there is nothing to indicate anyone has been injured at this time from the shooting and there is no active threat to the community.

“It is unknown if this was a random incident or if certain persons were targeted,” noted HPD.