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Billings man charged with 3 counts of attempted murder

The incident led to an extended Billings West End standoff before the man was arrested in Columbus
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Posted at 11:12 AM, Aug 18, 2023

BILLINGS - A Billings man accused of shooting three people and causing "significant chaos in our community" was charged Friday with three counts of attempted murder.

Darrell Colton Bryant, 39, appeared for arraignment in Yellowstone County District Court by video from the county jail two days after he was arrested in Columbus.

His arrest ended a nearly days-long effort by area law enforcement that began with what appeared to be a standoff on the Billings West End that closed traffic and businesses on a busy city roadway.

Bryant pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted deliberate homicide for the incident early Wednesday on West Meadow Drive. Prosecutors allege Bryant shot his wife, his teenage son and his son's friend inside a residence.

Bryant was also charged Friday with felony partner or family member assault for an incident in July 2021 where prosecutors said he was shot in the chest by his youngest son while allegedly beating his wife.

A prosecutor said that charge was filed earlier this year and was delayed because the victim had initially declined to cooperate. The teenager was not charged in the case.

Judge Donald Harris set bond at $1.5 million concurrent on each case after a prosecutor read a lengthy and detailed description from charging documents of the triple shooting incident on Wednesday.

The prosecutor also said Bryant has a history of violence and in this case caused "significant chaos in our community" and "tried to murder his wife, his 16-year-old son, and his son's 18-year-old friend in the living room."

RELATED: 'As safe as we can': Billings police outline decisions leading to standoff

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Darrell Colton Bryant appeared Friday in Yellowstone County District Court by video from the county jail.

According to charging documents, police were first alerted to the shootings shortly before 2 a.m. by "multiple callers" who reported hearing gunshots and a man yelling at the Golden Meadows mobile home park. One of the callers was a woman who was inside the residence where the shots were fired and identified the gunman as Bryant.

Billings Clinic also reported to police that three people had arrived in the emergency department with gunshot wounds. The three victims were identified in court documents by initials and were a woman age 45 and two teenagers ages 16 and 18.

The woman, who was identified as Bryant's wife and the mother of the 16-year-old boy, told police she had been sleeping when she heard the two teens run inside and say Bryant was shooting at them. She said she tried to deadlock the front door to keep Bryant out but he kicked in the door, knocking the woman back onto a living room couch.

The woman said Bryant first shot their 16-year-old son, then shot her in the leg, and then shot her son's friend who was hit in the hand and twice in the chest, according to court records. The woman said Bryant ran out of bullets and began hitting the teens with a candelabra before heading toward another part of the house. The woman said she believed Bryant was going to get more ammunition.

"At that point, all three shooting victims fled the residence and self-transported to the Billings Clinic emergency room," court records state. Their conditions have not been released. A gofundme has been set up for them here.

Another woman inside the residence called the police at about that time.

Billings police and county sheriff's deputies responded to the shooting location and the extended standoff ensued. Eventually, shortly before 11 a.m. officers entered the residence and discovered it was empty.

At some point, the woman who was shot told police that Bryant had a girlfriend and gave them the name of the apartment where she lived. Officers went to the building and were unable to locate her vehicle, court records state.

"Officers became concerned for the safety of (the woman) and pinged her cell phone which pinged in the area of Columbus, Montana," court records state.

The woman identified as Bryant's girlfriend told police he began calling her early Wednesday morning and when she eventually answered he asked her to pick him up on Gabel Road. The woman said she and her daughter drove together to pick him up, and she later dropped her daughter off at home after Bryant spoke about a shooting and was making suicidal statements, court records state.

The woman said Bryant asked her to drive him to Bozeman, and during the drive west on Interstate 90 he said "he would not go back to prison and would rather die by suicide or suicide by cop," the court documents state.

The woman said she learned about the shooting in Billings from a local news broadcast and pulled off the highway into Columbus, telling Bryant she did not want to get involved. Bryant told her to drop him off, court records state, and while she was driving him to a gas station she was stopped by law enforcement and both of them were arrested.

Prosecutors said the woman also told police Bryant had a pistol in a satchel inside her vehicle which was later recovered.

RELATED: Suspect in Billings standoff arrested in Columbus