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Butte Police respond to a shooter in Uptown Butte

Butte Police respond to a shooter in Uptown Butte Thursday.

The 28-year-old suspect in a Thursday afternoon shooting incident remained hospitalized as of late Friday morning, stalling investigators' ability to question him and begin determining the reason he entered the Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement building with a handgun, claimed he was in danger, fled to a building across the street, fired at least four rounds, and jumped out of a second-story window.

According to Undersheriff George Skuletich, police have applied for a search warrant that will allow them to look through the vehicle he parked haphazardly in front of the law enforcement building. Skuletich said that may help them determine whether the suspect was in possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. 

Skuletich also said police will also subpoena toxicology records from St. James Healthcare, where the suspect remained hospitalized under armed guard and in unknown condition Friday morning. 

According to Skuletich, the suspect underwent surgery after breaking his pelvis, his arm, and his knee after falling. 

Police are also investigating the suspect's recent activities, including his recent purchases. As for the 9mm handgun allegedly used in the incident, Skuletich said it was an older model and was likely not recently bought, though that is being looked into. 

As for the man's background, the suspect's only arrests in Butte-Silver Bow occurred in 2010, when he was picked up for misdemeanor thefts, Skuletich said. But police do not yet know the suspect's whereabouts in the intervening eight years and are looking to see whether he has been arrested in other jurisdictions.

After interviewing witnesses in the Synesis7 building where the suspect fled and allegedly threatened to shoot "anyone without a badge" before firing and jumping out of a window, police say company employees handled the situation wisely and according to active-shooter protocol. 

According to Skuletich, the suspect was able to enter the normally locked building by catching a door as people were coming or going. Once inside, people directed him down a southern hallway that they knew was largely unoccupied. Meanwhile, employees all congregated in the northern hallway and barricaded themselves inside. 

In so doing, he said employees followed the first two steps in recommended active-shooter response: first, run away, and second, hide and lock the doors. 

Employees in Synesis7 did not have to take the third recommended step -- fight back -- because detectives and uniformed officers quickly followed the suspect into the building from the law enforcement building where he had first drawn the gun, leading the suspect to barricade himself alone in an office. 

After the suspect fired four or five shots out of a window, officers began kicking in the door. After he jumped out of the window and landed about 20 or 25 feet below on the sidewalk, officers in the building entered the room and officers outside immediately placed him in handcuffs, Skuletich said. 

SWAT team members who happened to be in the midst of active-shooter training at Butte Central High School immediately responded to the scene, did a sweep of the building, and determined the scene was safe. 

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While only the suspect was injured and no one was killed, Skuletich noted that it was not a typical active-shooter situation and that things could have gone differently. 

For one thing, he noted, officers didn't have to respond from a second location, since the police station was involved in the incident. For another, the suspect seems not to have been motivated to "do a specific thing." 

But, he said, it's the kind of situation that "wakes you up." 

"This is probably the closest Butte's had to an active-shooter situation, possibly forever," Skuletich said.

As for what will happen next, Skuletich said, "The investigation's just really starting on this."

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