NewsCrime and Courts


Suspect in armed encounter with officers in illegal border crossing appears in court

Eureka and Lake Koocanusa
Posted at 11:17 AM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 13:22:52-04

MISSOULA — A Canadian man suspected of illegally crossing into Montana near Eureka and arrested after an armed encounter with a Border Patrol officer and chase through the woods appeared on criminal charges on Friday, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said on Monday.

Tommy Plante of Edmonton, 32 years old, made his initial appearance on a criminal complaint accusing him of illegal entry into the United States and being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Prosecutors state that on the evening of April 19, the Border Patrol Station in Eureka received information from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that Plante was possibly in a kayak on Lake Koocanusa and may be attempting to enter the United States, and that he should be considered armed and dangerous.

The next morning, a Border Patrol agent arrived in the area and saw a beached kayak and campsite about one-quarter mile south of the border. The agent approached the man, later identified as Plante, and identified himself as a Border Patrol agent.

Court documents allege that Plante stepped toward the agent and grabbed a rifle that was leaning against a tree. The agent drew his weapon while taking cover behind a tree and ordered Plante to put down his rifle.

Plante slung the rifle on his shoulder and put up his hands but did not put down the rifle, according to prosecutors. Plante picked up a water bottle and ran into the woods. Several agencies joined in a ground and air search for Plante, who was arrested without injury about approximately five and one-half miles from the initial encounter.

If convicted of the most serious crime, Plante faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. A criminal complaint is only an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen DeSoto presided, and ordered Plante detained pending further proceedings.

The case was investigated by the Border Patrol and the Air and Marine Operations, both within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security; FBI; Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.