A Fourth of July road rage incident between next-door neighbors in River Rock subdivision ended with a 56-year-old Belgrade man being charged with criminal endangerment.
According to court records, four Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputies and one sergeant responded to an address on Green Tree Drive about 12:30 Saturday afternoon after a report of a road rage incident involving two drivers, one of whom had pulled a gun. When officers arrived, a man was standing in front of a home screaming at several women and children on the front porch. A deputy removed the man from the property and pat-searched him for weapons; the man said someone in that house had pulled a gun from him while he was out looking for his lost dog. Because of the ruckus going on at the scene, the man was taken to the Gallatin County Detention Center to be interviewed.
At the detention center, the man said he had been driving through River Rock subdivision looking for his lost dog. He said he was driving about 15 miles per hour when a driver — referred to as the “victim” in the report — pulled up behind him, honked the horn, and yelled an obscenity, which the first man returned. The man said he then pulled over and got out of his vehicle, at which point the victim threatened to run him over. The standing man told him to go ahead, at which point the victim pulled out a gun. The defendant said he wanted to know where the victim lived, so he “followed him around the neighborhood” until the victim stopped at a house next to his own. The victim ran inside the home with the gun, at which point — according to the defendant — the victim’s family came outside and threatened him.
The victim’s version of the story was a little different. He said he was driving when he came upon the defendant’s vehicle stopped in the middle of an intersection. He said he honked his horn to get the stopped car moving so he could make a turn. He said the defendant left his vehicle and spat in the victim’s face, at which point the victim unholstered his firearm and put it in his lap while telling the defendant to get away from him. The victim said he drove around in an attempt to flee, but the defendant chased him aggressively throughout the subdivision before they arrived at his residence. He said the man continued to threaten him until deputies arrived.
The defendant was charged with criminal endangerment, though the report states additional misdemeanor charges are likely to be submitted. He was held at the jail without bond.
A Belgrade man was charged with assault with a weapon after gunfire was exchanged between him and his daughter’s boyfriend in Bozeman on Sunday.
According to court records, Bozeman police responded to a report of two people chasing a man and a possible gunshot. When officers arrived at the scene on North Rouse Street, they found a citizen holding two men at gunpoint. One of the detained was the Belgrade man; the other was his daughter’s boyfriend. The Belgrade man was transported to the Law and Justice Center to be interviewed.
The man said he had gone to Bozeman to pick up his two daughters from their mother’s residence. When he arrived, one of them said her 13-year-old sister had left with a 17-year-old male, so he went to find them. The man said he ended up finding the 17-year-old boyfriend driving on North 7th Avenue. When the boyfriend pulled into a parking lot, the man maneuvered his own car to force the other driver to stop. He said he approached the window of the boyfriend’s car while yelling at him. In a separate interview, the boyfriend said the older man had pointed a gun at his head, so he threw his car into reverse to escape.
The report states the Belgrade man located the boyfriend again on North Rouse Avenue and attempted to make contact with him, and exited his own car holding a revolver BB gun in his hand. As he approached, the boyfriend took off running. During a subsequent pursuit, the Belgrade man starting shooting in the boyfriend’s direction. He said he fired approximately four shots. The man said he wanted to scare the boy but wasn’t trying to hit him.
During a search of the man’s vehicle, police recovered a black revolver BB fun, a .25 caliber handgun, and a bag containing a substance suspected to be mushrooms.
The man was charged with assault with a weapon and held without bond.
A Belgrade man wanted on a probation warrant out of Texas landed in jail on the Fourth of July after failing to outrun police in his car.
According to court records, a Belgrade police officer on routine patrol noticed a pickup truck weaving down Jefferson Avenue just before 1 a.m. on July 4. The officer turned on his car lights in order to pull over the truck. The pickup driver stopped along the side of Dakota Street, but then accelerated quickly and drove away. A chase ensued and ended when the pickup got stuck on a dirt berm west of Arden and Andrea drives. Belgrade police officers apprehended the driver after a short foot chase. Officers found a semi-automatic rifle on the ground next to the pickup, which appeared to have been thrown at a downward angle, leading police to suspect it had been thrown from the pickup by the man.
Police learned the man was driving with a suspended license and had an active, extraditable warrant for his arrest from Texas for a parole violation. The officers suspected the man was impaired, and he subsequently performed poorly on field sobriety tests. He provided a breath sample that measured his breath alcohol content at 0.00 percent. The man refused to provide a blood sample, but a blood draw was done after police obtained a search warrant by phone. The arresting officer, who is a certified drug recognition expert, believed the signs and symptoms exhibited by the man were consistent with being under the influence of drugs.
After being medically cleared by doctors in Bozeman, the man was taken to the Gallatin County Detention Center, where he was held on bond for numerous traffic offenses and without bond on the arrest warrant from Texas. There, authorities found over $17,000 in cash in the man’s backpack and wallet, along with numerous butane lighters and torches, a ledger book, two cellular phones, an SD card, and a digital scale.
During an interview the day after his arrest, the man said the money represented his life savings, and he had earned it by working for an employer “under the table.” He said he fled the traffic stop because of the money in his backpack. His story didn’t match what
he had told a woman from whom he had rented a storage locker in Belgrade, and police suspected he was involved in the distribution of dangerous drugs. The woman turned over some items belonging to the man, including a rifle magazine that matched the rifle police found near the man’s truck.
The man, who had previous felony convictions for possession of dangerous drugs, said it had been a week and a half since he had used methamphetamine, but he had taken an anti-depressant and Benadryl the night of his arrest. It was later determined that he was under the influence of drugs when he was arrested.
He was charged with driving under the influence of drugs, fourth offense, and with possession of property subject to forfeiture. He was held without bond. Court documents state further charges of fleeing or eluding, obstructing a peace officer, driving with a suspended license and operation a vehicle with expired registration are likely to be levied later.