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Family shocked after deadly shooting outside their home in Billings

Police chief says a man pointed a pellet gun at Billings officer before being shot
Posted at 8:30 AM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 10:37:51-05

BILLINGS — On Seventh Street West near St. Johns Avenue, one woman heard the shots fired right in front of her, as a police officer fired at a man who was waving a gun and threatening people.

"My son and his friend went out to move the trailer up so they could get the Honda closer," said Amy Van Hoozer, who lives in the house right next to the scene of the shooting. "And it was all of a sudden, all these gunshots. It scared me and I really can't move out of my chair. And then Jenny was saying 'get down, get down on the floor. Kids get down on the floor. Everybody down on the floor.'"

Van Hoozer had a front-row seat to the violence that unfolded outside her home. Police were called to a report of a man walking down the street with a gun. According to Chief Rich St. John, the man pointed his weapon at multiple bystanders and a responding officer, Brett Hilde, who fired eight shots and killed him.

Van Hoozer could only watch, worrying about her son and his friend who were just a few feet away.

"They came running back in the house because you don't know where the shots are going," Van Hoozer said about her son and his friend. "You know that scared them to death because (the man shot) ended up right where my son was at the time."

She says her son and his wife knew the man who was shot as "Gunny," and her son thought about how close he was to the gunfire.

"He was angry that because he was out there and the police were shooting in that direction and he could have been hit," Van Hoozer said. "He's angry about that. He's hurt and angry that his friend is now dead, although he realizes it was his own fault."

Police have not yet released the name of the man who was shot and killed.

It's a shooting that hit far too close to home and a close call still taking a toll on this Billings family. "We were all shocked," Van Hoozer said. "And we're very thankful that no, no innocent person got hit."


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