Update – Man Who Caused Cooley Street Standoff Appears in Missoula Justice Court [AUDIO]
UPDATE -3:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 24
Jason Kirchner, 35, of Missoula, appeared in Missoula Justice Court on Tuesday, September 24 to hear charges surrounding the nearly 24-hour standoff on Cooley Street in which shots were fired at law enforcement officers, dozens of people were displaced from their homes, and an entire neighborhood was brought to a standstill.
Kirchner, dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit, appeared via video before acting Justice of the Peace Suzanne Geer. She read the charges to Kirchner, which included two counts of felony assault with a weapon, felony criminal endangerment, and felony criminal mischief.
Kirchner allegedly fired a rifle not just once, but several times at law enforcement personnel while they were attempting to place a cell phone and other items near the mobile home involved in the incident. Because of the serious nature of the crimes, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks asked for a high bail.
“The state is requesting bail in the amount of $100,000,” Marks said. “Given the violent nature of the offense, the prolonged standoff, and the fact that he repeatedly fired at police officers, it is our position that he presents a significant risk to the community.”
Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks
Justice of the Peace Geer set bail at $100,000 and remanded Kirchner to the Missoula County Jail. His next court appearance will be in early October. Kirchner told the judge that he did not have a job and was on disability. She appointed the public attorney to represent him.
The two counts of felony assault with a weapon carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine each. The other two felony charges, criminal mischief and criminal endangerment, both carry a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
KGVO news has asked Missoula city and county budget officials to estimate the overall cost of the standoff to the taxpayers.
Update 5:20 a.m., Sept. 24 - According to Lieutenant Richard Stepper with the Missoula Police Department, at around 3:30 a.m. the standoff at the Hollywood Trailer Park on Cooley Street on Missoula’s west side ended with the suspect peacefully surrendering.
Lt Richard Stepper, Missoula Police Department
After a long night, the woman who was in the trailer with the suspect eventually came outside. The police were able to debrief her before transporting her to St. Patrick Hospital to make sure she was OK.
Meanwhile the police continued talks with the male suspect via a negotiator and with the help of the suspect’s mother. In time, the man left the home and went out onto the sidewalk on his own will. He was then taken into custody without incident.
Stepper said that the standoff ended exactly how officials hoped it would, and commended everyone involved in the conclusion of the incident for their hard work.
Update 5 a.m., Sept. 24 - According to Tony Rio with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department, the Missoula County Special Response Team was able to talk the suspect into surrendering after the Missoula Police Department was on scene most of the night. The county team relieved the city SWAT team in order to give them some rest during the day-long standoff.
Update 9:30 p.m. - Lieutenant Richard Stepper with the Missoula Police Department said late Monday night that part of the strategy to get the suspect inside the trailer to communicate with law enforcement was to cut off the power to the trailer earlier in the day.
“It allows us to control the environment,” Stepper said. “It doesn’t allow him to use his telephone to contact outside people other than law enforcement, and it basically isolates him and hopefully we can end this thing peacefully, and he’ll just have to come out of there and talk to us.”
Stepper confirmed that there has been a woman inside the trailer with the suspect all day. It is unconfirmed that she may be a hostage. Most of the neighbors remarked that she was a friend of the suspect, and is not being held against her will.
Lt. Richard Stepper with the Missoula Police Department:
Update 6:15 p.m. - Missoula police have contacted two friends of the suspect who is held up inside of the trailer. The police are attempting to get the friends to convince the man to pick up the phone and make contact with them in order to end the situation peacefully.
At this point, they’ve decided not to do a forced entry into the home as to not jeopardize anyone’s safety.
Update 4:45 p.m. - According to those at the scene, SWAT team members appear to be preparing to enter the home after a cellphone delivered to the barricaded man via robot has failed to create a line for communication. A large SWAT truck has pulled up to the building as officers await orders.
In order to get the SWAT truck into proper position, though a tow truck driver form Iron Horse Towing had to be outfitted with a bullet proof vest and a helmet in order to move another vehicle that was in the way. An old Toyota 4Runner was moved successfully, and officers are in a defensive posture with guns raised.
News Talk KGVO’s Peter Christian:
Update 3:30 p.m. - After receiving a bullet during the standoff with a man in the Hollywood Trailer Park on Missoula’s west side, the Missoula SWAT team van has been relocated. Police have since brought in a large black truck with the letters IEDEOD. The truck is an improvised explosive device/explosive ordinance detonation response unit.
According to police on the scene, the plan at this point is to send in two robots. The first of which simply has a camera. If the first robot is successful, a second robot will be sent with a cellphone. If the individual does not comply or respond, the next step will be to use an ordinance of Oleoresin Capsicum (an ingredient in pepper spray) to push the suspect outside.
Although the name of the suspect has not been released, he is described as being 6’4” and weighing around 250 pounds.
Update 2:10 p.m. - Gunshots were heard from the trailer park at around 2:05 p.m., and police have confirmed that the shots came from the trailer involved in the standoff.
“A gun has been fired from inside the trailer and hit the side of the SWAT van,” reported Missoula Police Sgt. Mark Horner.
Horner said that no one has been injured, and that it is uncertain exactly who fired the shot. The gunshot confirms that a weapon is involved in the dispute, but authorities are still unsure what kind of weapon was shot.
Power has been cut to the home. Horner confirmed that the situation began when the man involved in the standoff punched another man in the face. The gun shots have changed the dynamic of the conflict, and Horner reports that there are no plans to enter the building at this time.
Gas masks were seen passed to police officers in the area.
Update: 1:30 p.m. - Residents in the Hollywood Trailer Park on Cooley Street in Missoula are reporting that police are asking them to remain inside while standoff negotiations continue with a man locked inside one of the trailer homes. Those nearby report hearing indiscernible shouting.
“Not sure what got things stirred up, but they extended the barricades,” said neighbor Brock Eggleston. “They have all of Cooley blocked off from Russell down to the other end.”
Eggleston said he has heard various reports from officers and has gathered details from listening to the megaphones from the SWAT van near his home. Among the details are concerns that a woman is locked inside the house with the man. It is still unclear if the woman is there by her own will or if the conflict is a potential hostage situation.
Eggleston reports that the man is carrying a rifle and has sent out text messages declaring that he is scared to go outside because he might be shot.
Eggleston also claimed that snipers were posted near his home and that the authorities were attempting to make contact with the suspect via a phone call from a family member.
Eggleston was told by a police officer that they expect nearby residents will need to remain indoors until 5:00 p.m.
Original 11 a.m. - What started as an argument between two men, has ended in a stalemate between one individual locked up in a mobile home and the Missoula Police Department.
“At approximately 7:38 a.m. this morning (September 23), we received a 9-1-1 call of a male vs. male disturbance,” said Missoula Police Detective Sgt. Scott Pastian. “One male was claiming to have been assaulted, and the information we have is that there may have been a gun involved. Responding officers tried to make contact, but at this point that has been unfruitful.”
So far, the standoff has lasted over three hours. Pastian said SWAT members are helping to manage the situation along with standard uniformed patrols.
Although no shots have been fired, due to the report of a gun, police are treating the situation as an armed standoff.
The standoff is taking place at the corner of Cooley Street and Burns Street in Missoula’s north side.