3 dead in Montana casino shooting, suspect killed by police

The Associated Press

Great Falls, Mont. – An overnight shooting Tuesday at a Montana casino left three people dead and another person injured, and the suspect was later tracked down and killed by police, officials said.

The shooting happened about 2 a.m. at the Emerald City Casino in Great Falls, along one of the city’s main commercial strips, according to a statement from the Great Falls Police Department.

Police closed two westbound lanes of 10th Avenue South Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019, after a triple homicide at the Emerald City Casino in Great Falls, Mont.

Police found the bodies of three victims inside the casino when they arrived. A fourth person with a gunshot wound showed up at Benefis hospital for treatment, authorities said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

City, county state and federal law enforcement officer conducted a citywide search that lasted more than three hours until the suspect was found by officers in a residential neighborhood about a mile (1.6 kilometers) away.

The suspect was fatally shot by officers about 5:45 a.m. after “engaging law enforcement,” Great Falls Police Capt. Jeff Newton said. He did not elaborate, and it was not clear whether that meant the suspect fired his weapon.

“ The entire situation was very dynamic, and the suspect was moving around quite a bit,” Great Falls Police Lt. Doug Otto said. “Things unfolded very quickly in a very short period of time.”

Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Tom Moore said it happened behind an elementary school.

“The response from the Great Falls Police Department was almost immediate,” Moore told the Great Falls Tribune.

The injured person was admitted to Benefis Hospital for unspecified reasons, police said. The person was not identified.

A hospital spokeswoman, Kaci Husted, said the injured person was in stable condition in the intensive care unit. She did not have additional details.

Emerald City Casinos own a chain of restaurants and bars with gambling machines in Great Falls and other Montana locations. A call to the casino where the shooting happened rang unanswered Tuesday morning.

The elementary school near where police killed the suspect canceled classes and postponed a K-3 grade concert. The school district deployed a team of mental health professionals for students, parents and community members.

The shooting is being investigated by local and federal officers. Officials did not offer a motive for the shooting and said they were not ready to release the name of the man shot by police. Investigators were still trying to figure out how the victims were connected and if anybody else was involved, Otto said.

An inquest into the police shooting of the suspect will be conducted after the investigation is complete.