(UPDATE, MARCH 26) The 35-year old woman involved in Saturday night's robbery and standoff with police has died. Family members have identified the woman as Vilene Not Afraid.
According to Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick the situation began in the 4600 block of Western Sky Drive at around 4:00 p.m.. Officers were told the suspect was involved in a disturbance, before shooting a firearm in the air and stealing the victim's vehicle.
Officers found the stolen car on King Avenue West and tried to conduct a traffic stop, but Not Afraid drove away, leading police on a chase through downtown and into the Heights neighborhood.
During that chase, she hit two uninvolved vehicles near the intersection of Main Street and Lake Elmo Drive, severely damaging the vehicle she was driving.
Chris Ackerman was stopped at the intersection when Not Afraid hit the vehicles. He said, “It was just a complete shock to just be sitting at a traffic light and have somebody push their way through, successfully pushing their way through a group of stopped cars."
He had no idea that what he had witnessed would quickly turn into a standoff, but when he turned down Sixth Avenue North he saw a large law enforcement presence.
“Maybe closer to ten police officers with their lights on in all directions kind of facing that car,” Ackerman said.
The car that Not Afraid was driving eventually stopped operating around the 900 block of Sixth Avenue North and that's when the standoff began.
Officers confirmed that Not Afraid was armed and the Billings Police Department and Yellowstone County Sheriff Office's SWAT teams were activated.
Officers worked on negotiations for around two hours, but the Not Afraid refused to cooperate.
SWAT officers then deployed gas into the vehicle, causing her to get out of the vehicle with her firearm pointed at officers.
At that time, a Yellowstone County SWAT officer fired his weapon at her.
She was taken to a hospital, where she later died.
The Yellowstone County Deputy who fired his weapon has been placed on administrative leave.
We will update you when we get more information.
(1st REPORT, MARCH 25) A 35-year-old woman was shot and injured by Billings police on the city's north side on Saturday after she allegedly stole and then crashed a vehicle, then holed up inside during a two-hour standoff.
Police responded to a call of an attempted robbery and stolen vehicle at around 5:30 p.m. on the 1100 block of Sixth Avenue North, according to Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick.
The woman, whose name has not been released at this point, reportedly fired a shot from a handgun during the robbery and crashed the allegedly stolen vehicle during the robbery, according to police.
After crashing, she remained armed and did not comply with police commands, leading to a two-hour standoff, police said.
Negotiators and the SWAT team were both at the scene trying to get the woman out of the vehicle, according to police.
After two hours, police fired gas canisters into the vehicle, which forced the woman to get out of the vehicle with her gun.
Lennick said he was unsure whether she fired, but officers did fire and injure her. He said he was unsure how many officers fired.
She was taken to a Billings hospital; there is no word yet on the extent or severity of her injuries.
We will update you if we get more information.
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