The effort to dislodge an armed man with a history of violence out of thick brush drew a swarm of law enforcement and equipment into Hill County, including a Great Falls tactical unit and an armored vehicle.
According to recently filed Hill County District Court charging documents, Thompson Densmore St. Pierre fought until the last second of his arrest.
The standoff on July 24 started as a pursuit on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation. It bled out of the reservation into Hill County and then stalled for hours as law enforcement worked to convince St. Pierre to give himself up.
Hill County Sheriff Jamie Ross, who was incident commander at the hours-long standoff, said a Rocky Boy officer who knew St. Pierre’s family was instrumental in the continued attempts to negotiate his surrender.
St. Pierre already had a federal warrant out for his arrest by the time the driver of the Hyundai he was in began leading Rocky Boy officers on a pursuit.
By late afternoon, Hill County sheriff’s deputies had joined the chase.
Hill County court documents say the driver’s name was Sabrina Potter. The filings don’t say why she eluded police in the first place. She was taken into custody shortly after the vehicle stopped on Shambo Road near Sucker Creek Road in the Bear Paw Mountains, despite both she and the passenger, St. Pierre, taking off on foot.
But St. Pierre would not come quietly.
St. Pierre ran into the dense brush, drawing in two Rocky Boy officers and two Hill County sheriff’s deputies after him.
Rocky Boy officers made contact with St. Pierre and other officers could hear yelling between them and St. Pierre.
Then the Rocky Boy officers yelled, “Gun!” and everyone pulled back.
The officers who came up on the suspect told others that St. Pierre was lying down and watching them approach. They yelled commands at him and that’s when he pointed a snub-nosed revolver in their direction. After they backed up, St. Pierre lowered his gun.
Police surrounded the area and commanded him to come out of the brush several times.
“He did not surrender or respond,” court documents say.
Over the remaining hours in the day, several law enforcement agencies arrived on the scene, including the Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Border Patrol, Tri-Agency Task Force, Blaine County sheriff’s deputies, Havre Police, and a SWAT-like tactical unit, the Great Falls Police High-Risk Unit (HRU). A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles — an armored vehicle — was also brought to the scene.
HRU is made of specially trained officers equipped to handle high-risk situations. It includes entry team members, negotiators, snipers, and medics.
HRU went to work, launching “several rounds” of gas into the brush.
St. Pierre remained unmoved.
After the armored vehicle arrived, HRU drove it into the gully and into the brush. HRU sent a drone to find the suspect. Once located, HRU gassed St. Pierre again.
“St. Pierre did not surrender or respond,” court documents say.
The HRU officers assembled, put up a shield and went into the brush after St. Pierre.
St. Pierre ran out, tried to get down the ravine and past the armored vehicle. A deputy drove his vehicle down the hill toward him. One of the deputies saw an HRU officer grab St. Pierre.
“St. Pierre was fighting the HRU officer and would not follow the commands,” court documents say.
HRU officers hit St. Pierre several times to get him into handcuffs. HRU officers would report that St. Pierre grabbed one of their rifles, which led to swift response and his capture.
The next day, the Rocky Boy officers who St.Pierre pointed the gun at spoke during an interview. One of them said he was afraid of St. Pierre. Based on St. Pierre’s past interactions with law enforcement, the officer considered him armed and dangerous. The other officer said St. Pierre pointed the gun at him and asked, “Do you want to go home?”
St. Pierre has had multiple run-ins with the law and has served prison time.
In November 2010, he was sentenced to prison for 30 months after pleading guilty to beating someone on Rocky Boy to the point of breaking his jaw. The beating happened in February of 2010.
In October 2011, while incarcerated, he was sentenced for stabbing someone on Rocky Boy. That incident, which happened June 2010, was part of an attack on one person by three people, St. Pierre included. The victim was stabbed multiple times and beaten. Two of his attackers, St. Pierre included, wore hooded sweatshirts and bandanas over their mouths.
Thompson is being held on a U.S. Marshals warrant in the Hill County Detention Center.
He is charged with felony assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.
District Court did not list any charges facing the driver as of Friday.
Email Paul Dragu at firstname.lastname@example.org