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Montana man reportedly fires pistol at smoke shop employee

Posted at 4:06 PM, Sep 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-16 18:06:58-04

A Belgrade man is accused of shooting a handgun at an employee of a smoke shop near MSU after an attempted theft on Sunday.

Matthew Noorlander, 21, charged with robbery and criminal endangerment, both felonies, along with probation violation, appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court on Monday.

According to charging documents, on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, at approximately 5:44 p.m. Bozeman Police Officers responded to a 911 call from Mellow Mood Pipe and Tobacco on Tai Lane near Montana State University.

Witnesses stated that Noorlander came into the business and took a “water pipe” valued at approximately $400, and a pack of Juul pods then fled on foot from the business without paying for the items.

An employee reportedly chased Noorlander and was able to stop him by pushing him from the rear as he ran, knocking him to the ground. When Noorlander started to get up, he drew a handgun and pointed it at the employee.

The employee told investigators that Noorlander pointed a black handgun at him, then he “pointed it a little further to the left and shot” the gun. Noorlander then allegedly asked the employee if he “wanted more” before leaving the area.

When officers arrived at the scene they located a silver 9mm casing near the business. Shortly before 6 p.m. MSU Police radioed that a person matching Noorlander’s description had run from him near the MSU duck ponds.

A short time later, a person matching the description was seen near Colombo’s Pizza and a foot pursuit ensued. Noorlander eventually stopped and got on his knees and was arrested.

Noorlander refused to speak to an officer without an attorney present.

Investigators and officers viewed surveillance video photos from the business and identified Noorlander as the person who ran from officers.

During Monday’s court appearance, investigators said Noorlander fired a handgun in the direction of MSU campus dorms, but detectives say the bullet must have landed in the middle of a crowded soccer field.

Bozeman City Police found the gun around 10:30 Monday morning. They have yet to locate the bullet, but found a shell nearby matching the gun.

Noorlander could face up to $50,000 in fines and up to 40 years in prison for robbery. He could also face an additional up to 10 years and up to $50,000 for criminal endangerment.

For parole violation, Noorlander’s bail was set at $500,000. For the two felonies, his bail was set at $100,000 to run consecutively with the first bail. He also cannot be within 1,500 feet of the victim or Mellow Mood.

Noorlander’s preliminary hearing has been set for Oct. 4.