A murder suspect from Great Falls died after shooting himself in Pondera County on Friday night (March 17, 2023).
The suspect - whose name has not yet been released - reportedly fled from a crime scene in the West Hill neighborhood of Great Falls.
On Friday evening, the Great Falls Police Department was investigating at the scene, but did not release any details at the time, saying only that it was a "serious incident."
Late Saturday morning, the GFPD said that dispatchers began receiving reports at 5:40pm of neighbors hearing gunshots coming from a residence on the 1400 block of Third West Hill Drive.
Responding officers found one person dead from what appeared to be a gunshot wound. Officers learned that the suspect had left the residence just minutes before they arrived.
KRTV then received several reports a short time later that many law enforcement officers had been seen speeding to Valier in Pondera County.
Pondera County Sheriff Robert Skorupa said in a news release that deputies were notified that the suspect in the murder had left Great Falls and was driving black GMC truck.
At about 7:45 p.m., a Pondera County Sheriff’s deputy found the truck on Highway 44 near Conrad. When deputies tried to contact the suspect, he drove away heading west and deputies began chasing after him.
Pondera County Sheriff Robert Skorupa told KRTV on Saturday: "At approximately 7:30 yesterday evening, we were contacted about a homicide that took place in Great Falls. The dispatcher had received some information and called our deputies. They had a pretty good description of the vehicle. My Valier deputy went to Conrad to talk with the dispatcher."
He continued, "On his way there, he noticed a vehicle off of (Highway) 44 parked. At that moment, he didn't know the description, so he went into Conrad to talk to dispatch. He said, 'That vehicle is parked on 44, about mile marker 25.' The Conrad deputy and himself came down and found the vehicle that was still there. They came to approach the vehicle and it started onto 44 Westbound."
Sheriff Skorupa said speeds were reasonable until mile marker 13, when the suspect brandished a revolver and shot two rounds at the deputies.
The chase went into the town of Valier and stopped at the Valier Pavilion boat ramp where deputies were able to block his escape.
By that time officers from other agencies had arrived, including the Great Falls Police Department, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol, Glacier and Toole County Sheriff’s Office, Conrad Police, Blackfeet Law Enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI.
Sheriff Skorupa said that deputies and negotiators tried for three hours to get the suspect to surrender peacefully, but at about 11 p.m., he shot himself.
The Montana Division of Criminal Investigation will be conducting the investigation into the suspect’s death.
The body will be sent to the Montana Crime Lab for autopsy and a Coroner from another county will conduct an inquest at a later date.
At this point, the identity of the murder victim in Great Falls has not been released, nor the name of the suspect.
We will update you when we get more information.