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Update on Missoula shooting where one person died

Brendon Galbreath
Posted at 5:44 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-16 19:49:05-04

MISSOULA — State investigators have released new information regarding a shooting involving a police officer in Missoula last week. Missoula County Sheriff TJ McDermott identified the man who died as 21-year-old Brendon Galbreath.

Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) administrator Bryan Lockerby released a statement on Monday afternoon.

"Following our field investigation, which included initial interviews, crime scene assessment, ballistic analysis, and video review, the unfortunate and tragic event that occurred the early morning of Thursday, August 12th, strongly indicates that the driver involved in the Missoula Police Department pursuit, died by suicide when the chase ended.”

Lockerby noted the chase through Missoula was ended by a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver that stopped the vehicle at the intersection of Stephens and Florence.

“The officer reported seeing the driver, still seated, raising up a handgun, coinciding with the officer bringing his duty weapon towards the threat,” said Lockerby.

He continued: “The series of events took place in a matter of seconds, almost simultaneously, as the driver’s gun discharged in the car. At the same time, the officer perceived that he was being shot at, and returned fire with one shot.”

Lockerby says the initial assessment - which included checking dash-cam video - indicates that Galbreath died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound that night.

The shot fired by the officer struck Galbreath’s car and was recovered at the scene and did not hit Galbreath, according to Lockerby.

“I must stress that this is only our initial assessment, and the investigation is far from complete. Critical incidents always require great scrutiny and methodical investigation, which means they take considerable time to complete,” Lockerby stated.

“This investigation is clearly going to take considerable time, so we urge patience. It’s important that this be done right; we owe that to Brendon’s family, the Missoula community, and to the Missoula Police Department who requested us to conduct an outside investigation for them,” Lockerby added.

A final report will be submitted to the Missoula County attorney for review and will likely follow the coroner’s inquest process.

A statement released by the Missoula Police Department on Monday afternoon says Police Chief Jaeson White "made contact with Brendon Galbreath’s family to extend the police department’s sympathies and to make them aware of the information being shared in this update to the public."

We will keep you updated as new information becomes available.