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DOJ probe: Fatal Missoula shooting incident may have been planned as “suicide by cop”

Posted at 4:37 PM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 21:22:54-05

MISSOULA –  New details emerging in court documents appear to indicate that the woman who died in a November shooting incident with Missoula Police may have intended to die via law enforcement gunfire, otherwise known as “suicide by cop.” 

According to a search warrant obtained by an officer with the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation, Missoula Police received a call on Nov.18 indicating that Janessa Cooper, 49, had made threats with a weapon and was planning to commit a “Blue Suicide”, meaning that she was planning on provoking law enforcement into shoot her.

When police arrived at the house on the 600 block of Blaine Street that morning, investigators say that Cooper opened the front door armed with a 1911 style .45 caliber handgun.

Missoula PD Shooting
The incident was happened in the 600 block of Blaine Street in Missoula on Sunday, Nov. 18. (MTN News photo)

Court documents say that MPD officer Joseph Burger took up a defensive position behind a parked vehicle. Investigators say that when Cooper pointed the revolver in Burger’s direction, the officer fired several rounds at her.

When officers entered the home they discovered Cooper dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

It is unknown at this time whether the fatal round was fired from Burger’s weapon, or was a self-inflicted wound by Cooper.

Burger is currently on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation from the Montana Department of Justice.