Billings Police are at the early stages of investigating an officer-involved shooting on Tuesday evening (2/15), according to a BPD press conference.

During the press conference on Wednesday (2/16), Billings Police Chief Rich St. John provided further information about what took place in the 100 block of 7th Street West at approximately 8 pm on Tuesday.

According to Chief St. John, officers were dispatched to the area after a caller reported a man with a gun in the street. The caller reported the suspect was walking south on 7th street west in the middle of the street and specified that they were “holding and displaying a handgun.”

Chief St. John said when the first officers arrived on the scene they weren't able to locate the subject and began to search the area. Just a few minutes later, 5-year BPD veteran Brett Hilde who is assigned to Billings Police Department street crimes unit, arrived on the scene in the area of 7th and St. John’s.

That's when Officer Hilde reportedly saw the subject point a handgun at a driver of an unrelated vehicle that was traveling north on the 100 block of 7th Street West, and then turn the handgun toward a group of people in front of a residence in the area.

According to Billings Police Chief Rich St. John, that’s when Officer Hilde “immediately pulled forward to intervene and stopped in the middle of the street” and was about 40 feet from the subject. Officer Hidle then opened his car door and “simultaneously drew his department-issued handgun as he got out.”

Before Officer Hilde could issue any “challenges or orders,” Chief St. John said the subject “turned toward him and pointed the handgun directly at him.” Fearing for his life, that’s when Officer Hilde “fired a total of 8 rounds at the subject," according to Chief St. John.

The subject was “hit and collapsed on the street,” but St. John is still unsure of the number of rounds that hit the subject, but will get that information following an autopsy. The man received life-saving measures, but died on the scene, according to St. John.

Upon further investigation, a replica of a Glock 17 semi-automatic handgun was found on the ground near the subject. “Replica in that it was actually a pellet gun,” said Chief St. John.

Billings Police have identified the subject as a 40-year old male from Billings who is “well known to local law enforcement and has a lengthy criminal record.”

This was a rapidly evolving incident that took place in just seconds and it could’ve been disastrous. I’m very relieved that Officer Hilde and no other citizens were injured, and my thoughts are with those who are affected. -Billings Police Chief Rich St. John

Chief St. John confirmed that Officer Hilde did have a body camera, but it was not activated until immediately after the shots were fired because the situation “unfolded so quickly.” St. John said the body camera officer Hilde was wearing is “an older model” and doesn’t think it has the pre-incident record feature available.

Officer Hilde is currently on administrative leave as part of the critical incident protocol, per Billings PD policy. The shooting is being investigated by the BPD Detectives division and agents from Montana’s Department of Criminal Investigation who will “ultimately assume lead on the case,” said Chief St. John.

This story continues to develop and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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