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After Metra stabbing, organizers won't boost security at Class B state basketball tourney in Billings

Metra Security
Posted at 8:24 AM, Mar 06, 2024

BILLINGS - The Montana High School Association has decided not to boost security at the Class B state basketball tournament hosted by the MetraPark, less than a week after a stabbing happened inside the arena.

That stabbing, which occurred Friday night in a Metra stairwell, led to the arrest of 15-year-old Kayne Stewart, who allegedly left an 18-year-old man with life-threatening injuries.

That incident led to questions regarding the arena's security, as fans shared concerns about the lack of metal detectors located at the front gate on social media.

According to MetraPark policy, the level of security at arena events is determined by the promoter or event organizer. Because it happened during the Southern B divisional, a high school-sanctioned event, that decision is up to the MHSA.

MHSA Executive Director Brian Michelotti said the decision to not require things like metal detectors during the tournament is based on current policy.

"As an education-based athletic and activity association, really you're driven for our family events," Michelotti said. "We feel very comfortable that we have the measures in place to ensure that our participants and our fans are safe."

Michelotti said the policy has to cover all venues. Sometimes they host basketball tournaments in smaller venues, such as high school gymnasiums.

"We have to think about what we're going to do not just in Billings, but in Butte and in Great Falls and in Missoula," Michelotti said, referencing the other three state tournament sites for this weekend. "In every one of those other tournaments we've held, there wasn't any metal detectors in place."

After meeting with MetraPark staff Tuesday morning, Michelotti decided that there wouldn't be any security changes for the Class B state tournament, which tips off at the Metra Thursday morning.

"We're going to move forward with the state B tournament with no metal detectors in there," Michelotti said.

MTN reached out to MetraPark multiple times for on-camera interviews for the past four days, but all requests to speak on the record were denied. On Monday, Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund explained why security is the responsibility of the promoter.

"Now, of course there's a cost with that," Ostlund said Monday. "If you hire a sheriff's deputies and put metal detectors up, there's a cost to that and it has to be worn by the people attending the event."

MetraPark did have metal detectors up and running Saturday in response to the stabbing, and Michelotti said they can add more security this weekend, if a threat emerges. At this time, Michelottti believes that with the arrest made last Saturday, everyone can feel safe.

"I think everyone can feel comfortable, just like they have done before this one isolated incident," Michelotti said. "We really don't have a heightened security risk at this time."