ST. REGIS - A Saturday incident in St. Regis left one man dead, another person injured, and a community shaken.
While that community came together Monday night for a debriefing with counselors on hand, others involved in the situation remember the actions they took that day, actions that potentially saved lives.
“We had a couple customers pull into the parking lot, and they got a gun put to their face, and they ran in, told my manager to lock the door," Ken Jasper says, the general manager of Talking Bird Saloon, a bar located in the St. Regis Travel Plaza just off Interstate 90.
On Saturday afternoon, the bar was full of people enjoying lunch inside while an incident outside was causing law enforcement from several agencies to rush to the travel plaza.
According to Mineral County Undersheriff Wayne Cashman, two of the four suspects in an armed robbery in Idaho had stopped at the travel plaza.
One of the suspects - a woman - was detained at a nearby hotel, while the male suspect tried to get car keys from travel plaza visitors by showing them his gun.
When that didn't work, Cashman told MTN the suspect grabbed a hostage and shot him before running towards the Talking Bird Saloon.
Cashman says while Mineral County has eight deputy sheriffs, around 100 law enforcement and safety officers were present that day, from firefighters to the U.S. Forest Service.
"When one of us needs help, all of us come running to make sure everyone is safe," he says.
When Jasper was alerted of the armed suspect in the area around 12:45 p.m., he was already on guard. About 30 minutes earlier, the St. Regis Travel Center gas station staff had warned Jasper of the possibility of an incoming assailant. As soon as he knew the gunman was in the area, he rushed to lock the door.
“Right when I got to the door, the assailant ran by with a gun in his hand, and we got the door locked, we got everyone moved back to the back of the building.”
Jasper locked the doors just seconds before the suspect attempted to break in, as seen in the outdoor surveillance video.
“The assailant was shot, maybe 15 to 20 seconds after he left our building," Jasper said.
But because Jasper locked the door when he did, the armed suspect could not enter a room full of customers, employees, and even young girls selling Girl Scout cookies, who were all piled in the back office.
“You know, just very thankful, really blessed to be alive and you don’t really know it until something like this happens to you," Jasper said. "I feel fortunate that those folks came in and just didn’t turn around and leave, because they were the ones who saved everybody by letting somebody know."
Jasper also thanked law enforcement and the Travel Center staff and customers who warned him of the gunman, who has not been identified. Jasper says the staff are shaken from the incident, but are leaning on each other for support.
Undersheriff Cashman told MTN the hostage who was shot is in critical, but stable condition.
The other two suspects in the Idaho robberies were apprehended in Haugan, Montana. They were not involved in the St. Regis incident. Authorities did not release information as to why the group separated.
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