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Bozeman man facing felony assault with a weapon charge after confrontation in store

Became belligerent after learning ammunition not in stock
Posted at 2:57 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-16 11:40:05-05

BOZEMAN — A Bozeman man who reportedly pulled a gun on a gun counter clerk and a customer Thursday after being told there was no 9mm ammunition available at a Bozeman store faces a felony assault with a weapon charge.

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Zachary A. Branson, 28, was seen in Gallatin County Justice Court on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Branson’s bail was set at $50,000.

According to charging documents, on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, at 11:03 am, Bozeman Police Officers responded to Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply on No. 7th after receiving a report of a customer pulling a gun on a gun counter clerk and customer.

The gun counter manager reported to law enforcement that Branson approached the counter inquiring about the availability of 9mm ammunition. Once he learned there was none in stock, Branson reportedly became verbally belligerent and began swearing and insulting the manager. Branson was approached by another man who told him to stop swearing and leave the store. Branson then reportedly turned to the man and canted his body to the right in a tactile stance, moved his clothing away from his waistband, and placed his right hand on the grip of a black-colored pistol. Branson began to draw the pistol from the holster but did not remove it from the holster. The man told officers he was in immediate fear of serious bodily injury or death. Branson left the store when an employee approached Branson’s vehicle, the man reportedly made the same movement of drawing his weapon. The employee told law enforcement that he feared Branson would draw the firearm and discharge it, so he backed off and let Branson drive away. The gun counter manager confirmed the verbal altercation with Branson over 9mm ammunition and told officers that he saw Branson “blade” to the other man, then “sweep” the clothing away from his waistband and place his hand on what he believed was a weapon. The manager thought Branson was going to shoot the man in the store.

Witnesses said Branson left the location and was last seen traveling south on No. 7th Ave. The registered owner of the pickup truck was identified as Branson. Officers located Branson’s vehicle in the Walmart parking lot unoccupied. Law enforcement then observed Branson walking through the parking lot. He was detained at that time.

Branson’s next court appearance is set for Feb. 5, 2021.