A suspected gunman is in jail, and a Billings Police officer who has been with the department for nearly six years is on administrative leave after a shootout near the Sonic restaurant in the Billings Heights Sunday morning.
Nobody was injured in the incident, and Billings Police said it appears the gunman was high on drugs while trying to rob the Sonic. It was no typical day for Sonic employees Sunday morning. As workers arrived before opening the restaurant, a males suspect tried following them into the store. When employees told the man to wait outside until the drive-thru opened; he decided to leave.
Moments later, it took a turn for the worse when a Sonic employee tried walking across the street to Albertsons for supplies. According to Billings Police Chief, Rich St. John, the man confronted the employee at the nearby Coffee Mill kiosk and demanded money. "The subject pulled a semi-automatic handgun and fired at least one shot at the employee trying to flee."
Fortunately, an officer Shane Weinreis, heard the gunfire, thinking it was fireworks, and responded quickly. "As the officer closed on the scene, the suspect vehicle exited the Albertsons lot, drove over the median, and entered the south lot of the Sonic and drove around to the back side," St. John said.
That's when the attempted robbery situation turned into a shootout. "At this point, we believe the suspect fired one shot at our officer through the windshield. Our officer got out of his car, and returned fire," Chief St. John said.
But during the shootout, the suspect's handgun jammed. "Our officer saw this, quickly advanced and tackled the suspect," Chief St. John said.
Moments later, the gunman was arrested and taken into custody. At last word, the charges are pending. According to officers, we have little information as to why the man decided to rob the Sonic here in the Billings Heights. Chief St. John did say the gunman appeared to be on drugs during the time of the shooting.
According to Chief St. John, a second press conference will be held Monday morning at 10:00 AM to release more information.