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Thank you.

That's what we owe Sheriff Ed Lester and our Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Department.

The marathon bus hijacking, hostage situation and standoff last week could have ended any of many different ways.

Those scenarios could certainly have included injured police, bystanders, hostage or hijacking suspect.

The fact that the outcome involved nobody hurt or killed is a credit to the professionalism, tactical decision-making, collaboration and perhaps most of all patience of our law-enforcement leaders and officers.

Perhaps the most surprised at the outcome was the suspect himself, who, according to the accounts of those involved, had said repeatedly he expected himself and others to be killed.

Lester and his Butte team collaborated with the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, bomb disposal units from Missoula and Helena, and others during the lengthy standoff. But ultimately, it was both Lester's decisions and his officers' execution of those orders that ended the matter with no bloodshed.

We have reason to be proud of our police every day in Butte -- but this was a particularly dramatic example of the department's competence and professionalism.

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