BILLINGS - A man is dead after he was killed by police following a dangerous standoff that lasted nine hours Saturday.
Billings Police Chief Rich St. John confirmed the suspect drove an SUV through the front entrance of the Big Bear Sports Center on King Avenue West around 3 a.m.
The store was not open at the time and no one was inside. The suspect reportedly came from Walmart where employees had kicked him out of the store for attempting to steal firearms, according to police.
MTN News spoke with a WalMart employee who saw the suspect attempt to gain access to the gun case at the store early this morning. The employee, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the man appeared to be impaired. The suspect was told to leave and had to be chased out of the store.
Officers who arrived on scene were shot at by the suspect. Several volleys of gunfire were exchanged.
St. John said at least seven officers discharged weapons over the course of the standoff.
No officers were hit but a police vehicle was struck by the gunfire. Soon after the initial gunfire, police parked several city dump trucks outside the entrance to help prevent stray bullets from reaching King Avenue.
Police attempted to negotiate with the suspect using a bullhorn. At one point, the Bear armored vehicle cleared the front entrance fully to allow officers a better view of inside the store.
Several flashbangs were deployed throughout the standoff. The suspect remained uncooperative through the negotiating process despite numerous attempts to end the standoff peacefully.
Police were able to find the suspect with the help of the bomb squad's remote vehicle. Once police identified it was safe to enter, they found the suspect deceased.
Big Bear suffered significant damage to the store including the entrance. St. John said the store had water damage and a gas leak. Police are in contact with the owners of the store.
It is now a crime scene and officers will be combing the store for evidence as well as assessing any further damage.
BILLINGS - Police have surrounded a significant area of King Avenue West early Saturday morning when an armed suspect drove a vehicle through the front entrance of Big Bear Sports.
They are currently negotiating with the suspect using a bullhorn trying to get him to give up, according to an officer on scene. The suspect is armed and still in the building. It is unknown if anyone has been injured. The store was not open at the time.
The incident began around 3 a.m. when the man drove a vehicle through the entrance. Police believe he was trying to steal guns. Around 4:30 a.m. police engaged with the suspect and exchanged gunfire. No officers were hit but it is unclear if the suspect was wounded. A police vehicle was struck by the gunfire.
A large explosion was heard around 9 a.m. rocking the building and area immediately around the store which was determined to be a flash-bang. Bomb squad remains on scene.
Negotiating teams are on scene as well, including three city dump trucks barricading the entrance. Law enforcement urged people to stay away from the area.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.