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Billings businesses take a hit after standoff prompts closures on Saturday

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BILLINGS - Many businesses in the area around Big Bear Sports Center were forced to close Saturday as law enforcement engaged in a standoff with a man inside the store.

"There is so much traffic out here on the weekend,” said Ken Heafner, who owns Clark Avenue Jewelers, about a block away. “It is difficult to be closed on a Saturday, so it definitely has an impact…but what can you do? It’s better to be closed than to have something happen."

According to police, the man identified as Frank Half, Jr. drove a car through the front entrance of the sporting goods store early Saturday morning after he was kicked out of Walmart.

Officers eventually shot and killed Half around 1 p.m. after about a nine-hour standoff.

As a result, many of the businesses that operate in the area were forced to close. Others chose to shut down as a precaution.

"Normally on Saturday, that's our busy day, right along with Friday,” said Adrian Brown, a manager at the King Avenue MasterLube. “With what was going on, there was no way that anybody could get in (because) they had everything blocked off. So we did take a hit there.”

That hit cost the MasterLube store about $5,000, according to Brown.

Brown said officers suggested they leave the area around 8 a.m. The store was closed until 3 p.m., when they reopened for a few hours to finish out the day.

"We did the best with what we had,” said Brown. “I mean, in that situation, safety's first."

Across the way, Clark Avenue Jewelers was one of the stores unable to open.

"Saturday is a very busy day for us,” said Heafner. “It definitely has an impact on your business. But by the same token, you don't want to risk anybody's lives or have anybody get hurt so it really was a good thing that we were closed."

Heafner said he can't gauge the potential long-term effects on his business, but he is thankful for work done by officers on scene.

"I think, from what we saw, you couldn't be more proud of the Billings Police Department,” said Heafner. “I think they did a great job and hats off to them."

While some stores would not comment, a manager at PetSmart said they were closed all day Saturday, but had a busy day Sunday. 

RELATED:

Big Bear standoff suspect, Billings officers who shot at him identified

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