BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Department of Justice would like to have a state morgue in Billings as part of its effort to improve medical examiner services for the eastern part of the state.
DOJ spokesman Eric Sell tells The Billings Gazette that the agency has asked the Legislature to fund the project.
Montana has a morgue at the state crime lab in Missoula, but has contracted with St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings to use its morgue facilities.
The state asked Yellowstone County to help fund the facility, which would cost $600,000 to $900,000 and be staffed with two medical examiners along with support staff. County commissioners informally agreed to contribute $150,000 to the project.
Crime lab administrator Phil Kinsey says professional organizations recommend that a state the size of Montana have at least two autopsy facilities.
Billings police investigate shoplifting, shooting
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Police in Billings are investigating after a man reportedly tried to detain two suspected shoplifters and then fired a gun at their tires as they drove away.
Sgt. Matt Chaney says the man confronted the suspects at Rimrock Mall on Saturday evening and told them they could not leave. The man reportedly stood behind the car to prevent them from leaving and told them he had a gun and would shoot them if they drove off.
Chaney says the suspects then tried to back over the man, who fired several shots into the tires of the suspect vehicle. The shooting was reported at about 5:40 p.m.
The shoplifting suspects have not been identified.
The man who fired the shots was questioned at the scene and released. No one was injured.
Missoula woman arrested after hit-and-run death
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A 32-year-old Missoula woman has been arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide while under the influence for a hit-and-run death.
The Missoulian reports Emily Bess Levens also faces charges of failure to remain at the scene of an accident where a person was killed, driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance.
Levens was booked into jail at about 4 a.m. Saturday and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Justice Court Monday afternoon. Her bail was set at just over $100,000.
Missoula County sheriff’s spokeswoman Brenda Bassett did not release any information about the collision or the victim.
Montana State student dies in crash near Bozeman
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A 19-year-old Montana State University student has died in a rollover crash on Interstate 90 near Bozeman.
The Montana Highway Patrol says Amanda Gaskill of Broadus was westbound shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday when the sport utility vehicle she was driving drifted to the right near the Seventh Avenue interchange. It began to spin, went off the road and rolled. Gaskill was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. She died at the scene.
Montana House backs effort to boycott anti-Israel firms
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana lawmakers are debating a bill to pledge solidarity with Israel by refusing to do business with firms boycotting the Middle East country.
Republican House Speaker Austin Knudsen of Culbertson said he was spurred to sponsor the bill in part because of a spate of controversy over anti-Semitism in Whitefish.
The House endorsed the measure 59-41 on preliminary vote.
The bill would direct the Montana Board of Investments to sever ties with companies supporting a pro-Palestinian movement to boycott Israel.
Knudsen said his bill would a send a message of solidarity with Israel, a key U.S. diplomatic, military and economic partner in the Middle East.
Opponents said the bill is well-intentioned but a potential infringement on free speech. Some argued Montana should stay out of global politics.
2 walk away from small plane crash near Stevensville
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The owner of a Butte hockey team and his wife walked away with only minor injuries from a small plane crash near the Stevensville Airport.
The Montana Standard reported Butte Cobras owner Michael Burks said the plane started losing altitude when it had a mechanical problem shortly after takeoff on Thursday.
Burks was piloting Beech 36 Bonanza aircraft. He says he could have continued on course but risked hitting a house on the east side of the airport. So instead he veered over an open field, where the plane came down wing first, igniting a small fire that soon burned out.
Burks sustained a scratch to his leg. His wife, Kiomi Glenn Burks, received a few stitches to the side of her head.
The Federal Aviation Administration was investigating.