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Lights to be installed in parking lot where Billings teen killed

Castle rock parking lot.jpg
Posted at 7:45 AM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 11:20:39-05

BILLINGS - The Heights Task Force met on Tuesday and heard about some plans to put lights in the parking lot south of Castle Rock Park to make it safer.

Those living close to Castle Rock Park say the parking lot off of Constitution Avenue draws some activity at night.

"Kids in cars and sometimes vagrants," said Mark Kary, a Heights resident. "Trash can, and there's M-80's being thrown in there and blowing. You know, it's just lots of problematic activity."

Kary lives a few hundred yards from the parking lot that is on land south of the park, owned by School District 2.

"I like to call it the black hole," Kary said. "If it's dark out, especially when the moon's not full, if you look over here you can't see anything."

A police investigation continues in the shooting death of 15-year old Khoen Parker, which happened in the early morning on Sunday, Jan. 16.

On Friday, one of his friends talked about the incident in that dark parking lot.

"We had problems with these kids for a while," said Jude Yates, a friend Khoen's, who spoke at a memorial last Friday. "And they ended up they ended up saying they wanted to meet up and they were going to come to my house but I told them we were just going to meet up somewhere so we went to the heights and then bad stuff happened."

And others have also come to the parking lot.

"One of the neighbors explained last night that people were sitting in their cars," Laura Drager, Heights Task Force 1st vice-president, said. "Whether it was a nice dark party spot, or there were people that may have been sleeping in their cars back here as well."

Drager heard that story at a task force meeting and says that will soon change.

At the meeting on Tuesday, Superintendent Greg Upham announced the district is working with NorthWestern Energy to install four lights in the parking lot.

"And I'm sure that Greg has told them that this is an absolute priority for our community," Drager said.

"I was impressed that Superintendent Upham was backing so quickly and taking it to heart," Kary said.

The superintendent says the lighting was motivated by the tragic incident.

And while he does not have an exact date, he expects the lights to be up in a matter of weeks.