Last Friday, 36-year old Nicole Watson of Helena was in Ennis for a custody exchange involving her 5-year-old son. Court documents say when she knocked on the door of the home, Rick Park, 53, opened with a gun in hand, shooting her twice and killing her.
“It’s pretty scary thinking that we were living next to the guy that was capable of doing this,” said next-door neighbor Paul Ragone, standing outside of his Ennis home.
Park appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court on Tuesday.
According to court documents, Park shot Watson in the face with a .45 caliber pistol when she and her husband arrived for the custody exchange. When she attempted to get back up, Park reportedly shot her again in the head.
Court documents say Park then pointed the gun at Watson’s husband and said he’d better call 911. The husband took off running from the scene and called for help.
Paul Ragone’s wife was right next door about to do dishes when she heard a loud bang — and discovered a bullet had gone right through the kitchen cabinet into her home.
“That’s when she noticed the lady on the ground. And she ran over there to see if she was alright, she was saying, 'Ma’am, are you okay?' And she noticed the pool of blood,” said Ragone. “And you know, banged on Rick’s door not knowing he did that.”
“Law enforcement arrived there shortly there after, and the defendant was standing there by the victim. He told law enforcement that he’s the person that shot the victim. He in fact escorted the law enforcement into his residence to retrieve the firearm that was used to kill the victim,” said Madison County Attorney Chris Christensen in court on Tuesday.
Christensen told Judge Bryan Adams there was a longstanding history of custody disputes between the accused shooter and Watson.
“At one of the hearings, a witness was present to testify in the case that the defendant had told the witness that he was going to buy a gun and he’s gonna shoot or kill the victim,” said Christensen.
Ragone and his family are new to the neighborhood, and like many neighbors nearby, they were shocked to hear the news.
“From what I gathered from him, he was an alright guy, everyone seemed to like him,” said Ragone.
Park was denied bail and remains in custody.