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Woman shoots two men during alleged attack outside of her Billings residence

File photo of a Billings police car (July 2020)
Posted at 11:56 AM, Jan 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-30 20:44:26-05

BILLINGS — A woman shot two men who allegedly attacked her outside her residence in Billings on Saturday, January 28, 2023.

The shooting happened at about 12:45 p.m. Saturday in an alley in the 2000 block of Cook Avenue. Police described the incident on social media as a "possible robbery with shots fired."

Billings police said Monday the 25-year-old woman shot the two men, ages 29 and 37, in an apparent case of self-defense.

"As far as the victim using a firearm for self-defense the law is pretty clear on people’s right to use self-defense when they can articulate a threat to themselves or others," police Lt. Matt Lennick said in a statement to MTN News. "Like all cases of this nature the case will be reviewed by the County Attorney’s Office and they could bring forth criminal charges against the shooter if they deemed the threat didn’t meet the level of force used."

"The report indicates the suspects attacked the victim at her car outside of her residence," Lennick said in the statement. "The victim pulled her concealed firearm and both suspects were shot."

One of the men who was shot remained at the scene and the other ran from the area but arrived later at a hospital, Lennick said.

Lennick added that neither of the two men have yet been arrested or charged, but the case has been sent to the County Attorney’s Office for review and pending charges.

Missoula Attorney Paul Ryan is familiar with Montana's justifiable use of force laws. He represented Markus Kaarma in 2014 after Kaarma shot and killed a German exchange student whom he caught trespassing in his garage in Missoula.

“People think of self-defense or things like that, but the actual legal term is justifiable use of force,” Ryan said in a web interview Monday afternoon. “The law allows you to defend yourself with the same force that they’re coming with, essentially."

Kaarma is currently serving a 70-year sentence after being found guilty of deliberate homicide. Ryan said all of the facts — especially location — are significant in making decisions regarding such cases.

“There’s different standards depending on location," Ryan said. "For example, there’s different standards if you’re in your house versus outside your house. There’s different standards if you’re defending property versus your person."

Montana law says a person is justified in using force, but only if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm.