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Western Montana men arrested after 7-hour search across 3 counties

Crime Watch
Melrose Divide Butte map
Posted at 1:12 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-23 22:37:04-04

Two men from Western Montana were arrested after fleeing a rollover accident on I-15, triggering a manhunt that lasted for seven hours.

Antonio Baca Ramirez Jr., 28, of Thompson Falls, and Stephen Goodman of Missoula, 27, were arrested after a seven-hour search by law enforcement spanning three counties on Thursday.

The Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that at around 8:19 a.m., its Dispatch Center received a 911 call reporting a rollover crash on I-15 near mile marker 98, near Moose Creek Hill. The call was directed to Butte-Silverbow County as the crash was in their county. The Montana Highway Patrol learned that the occupants of the vehicle were picked up by a passerby and dropped off in Melrose.

A concerned citizen called in at around 9 a.m. to report two suspicious men that were looking in cars at the Salmon Fly Campground/Fishing Access just outside of Melrose. Beaverhead County Sheriff’s deputies responded to look for the men as well as assist Montana Highway Patrol.

They determined that the two men that were looking in the vehicles were the occupants of the roll-over crash that had left the scene of the crash.

Melrose Divide Butte map

Prior to officers arriving, the two men had left from the campground and into the wooded area near the campground. Officers chased after them but were unable to locate them due to the densely wooded area.

The MHP activated its Special Response Team and two tracking K9 dogs to assist with the search of the two men. They deployed into the wooded area and proceeded to track the two men.

Beaverhead County Undersheriff David Wendt said that one of them — later identified as Ramirez — “decided he had had enough and turned himself in” to officers. He was taken by ambulance to Butte for injuries sustained from the rollover crash; he was later released to Adult Probation & Parole.

At about 3 p.m., Beaverhead County Dispatch received a call from Butte-Silverbow who said that a rancher had found the second missing suspect — Goodman — near his residence. The rancher held the suspect at gunpoint until officers arrived and took him into custody.

Goodman was taken by ambulance to Butte for his injuries sustained from the rollover crash. Goodman was found to be on the run after reportedly escaping a pre-release detention center in Oregon and had a nationwide arrest warrant issued by the U.S. Marshals Service

The Sheriff’s Office summarized that the incident totaled an almost seven-hour manhunt through three counties, and involved Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Deputies, federal law enforcement, and Montana Highway Patrol troopers. The search utilized four K9s, two drones with infrared cameras, and the MHP Special Response Team, totaling roughly 25 personnel.

Undersheriff Wendt said the response to the incident highlights the importance of coordinated cooperation between agencies.