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'Justice for Beau' protesters want action after deadly shooting at Billings bar

Justice for Beau
Posted at 10:00 PM, Feb 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 00:04:33-05

BILLINGS — A day after 21-year old Beau Harlan was shot and killed in the parking lot of America's Wild West, friends of Beau organized protests in front of the bar and the Yellowstone County courthouse to demand action and accountability for his death.

The Yellowstone County Coroner identified Harlan as the victim of an early Sunday shooting, which occurred, Harlan's friends say, following a fight at the bar off of Southgate Drive.

Eighteen-year-old Xavier Buffalo was arrested following the shooting and charged with deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence. He is being held at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility.

Harlan's friends - Alicia Doney, Johnie Hutchinson, and Amberly Whiteman -organized the protest and said they were with Harlan Saturday night at America's Wild West and say he was pulled out of a car and shot in the stomach, allegedly by Buffalo.

Harlan died a short time later at St. Vincent Healthcare.

"This is not okay for him to get murdered, and this is planned," Doney said. "Everyone needs to be held accountable for it."

Harlan's death marks the second shooting death in the America's Wild West parking lot within a year.

The previous shooting happened on April 23, 2022, when Billings police say 29-year-old Domonic Shawn Dale Morgan was shot and killed by a 19-year-old man.

Looking at calls for service data, police say the bar is a magnet for trouble.

Officers responded to 194 incidents at America's Wild West from Jan. 1, 2022 to Feb. 13, 2023.

That number includes 59 area checks by patrol officers and 136 calls for service.

Those calls span a wide range of complaints, including three shootings, three robberies, two sex offenses, 11 assaults, 32 disturbances, nine weapons complaints, two partner/family member assaults, eight thefts, one motor vehicle theft and a number of suspicious activity complaints.

Compare that to other bars in the area in the same time period—Billings police report 13 incidents at Fiddler's Green and 30 incidents at Powder Horn Lounge & Casino. Fiddler's Green is on the same block as America's Wild West, while the Powder Horn is less than five minutes away.

Another comparison in the same time frame is for a bar with similar services, Daisy Dukes Saloon and Dance Hall in downtown Billings, which police say had 115 incidents comprising 39 proactive checks by patrol officers and 76 calls for service.

In addition to wanting more charges for other people allegedly involved in Harlan's death, Doney, Hutchinson and Whiteman want America's Wild West to change its service from 18 years and older to 21 years and older.

“We want to try to shut it down. We want them to change their policy to 21 and up. This is the only bar in Billings that allows 18 and up. Obviously, younger kids are going to come here," Doney said.

“They need to get better security," Hutchinson said. "Why did they kick Xavier [Buffalo] out of the bar that night and let him sit in the parking lot until bar close for that to happen?”

MTN did reach out to the owners of America's Wild West but they declined to comment.

As for the protest, Doney says she wants to know that Harlan's life mattered.

“I just feel like the story needs to be known. Beau’s voice needs to be heard."