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Gun-toting neighbor near Billings school has been arrested

Gabriel Cowan Metcalf of Billings
Gabriel Cowan Metcalf of Billings
Posted at 3:27 PM, Aug 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-23 17:35:51-04

Gabriel Cowan Metcalf of Billings, accused of illegally possessing a gun near a Billings elementary school, appeared in federal court on Wednesday, August 23, 2023, on a firearms charge, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Metcalf, 49 years old, made his initial appearance on a criminal complaint charging him with possessing a firearm within a school zone.

The government alleged in court documents that from August 2 through August 17, the Billings Police Department received numerous calls and weapons complaints about Metcalf, who lives at 430 Broadwater Avenue, walking on the sidewalk and around the area carrying a firearm.

Broadwater Elementary School is directly across the street from Metcalf’s residence. The sidewalk and streets in front of Metcalf’s residence are public property within 1,000 feet from the school and are a “school zone” as defined in federal statutes.

"It was a surprise and I didn't really know what to think about it," said Julie Alderman, parent of a Broadwater students, after dropping her son off at school Tuesday morning and seeing police on campus.

"I thought school might get canceled, but it didn't," Alderman said. "We got to walk (her son) in the front doors, and I think once he's inside he'll be safer."

Other parents, like Sarah James, echoed Alderman's concerns.

"The first day of school already has enough going on," James said. "It shouldn't start this way."

Metcalf was interviewed by MTN News on Tuesday hours before he was arrested; he said at the time that the decision to publicly hold his firearm in his front yard has nothing to do with the students.

Gun-toting neighbor near Billings school has been arrested

Gabriel said that this began with a dispute with a neighbor and that legal proceedings are "ongoing," but did not elaborate.

"I'm not here to intimidate or frighten," Gabriel said when asked about what he would say to parents and teachers. "I'm exercising my constitutional right. I have no ill will towards any of them."

"I have armed for self-defense and in defense of my loved ones and others as well," Gabriel said.

The school opted to have recess in a parking lot behind the school on Tuesday, shielding the students from the man's house. Additional officers patrolled the campus throughout the day.

Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives arrested Metcalf near his residence on Tuesday night, pursuant to a warrant issued by a federal judge, and executed a search at his residence.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan presided at Wednesday's court appearance. Metcalf remains in custody pending further proceedings.