NewsCrime Watch


Man charged with sexual assault of girl in Billings Walmart parking lot

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-12 19:47:35-05

A Billings man was charged Thursday with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old he encountered at the Billings West End Walmart on Dec. 30.

Tyson Lee Garza, 39, was charged with one count of sexual assault of a child under 16 years old in Yellowstone County District Court. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday morning.

According to charging documents filed by Yellowstone County prosecutors, the girl went shopping at Walmart when the alleged assault occurred. She told police that she entered the store while her grandfather was on the phone in the parking lot and encountered a man, later identified as Garza, who started talking to her.

Garza told the girl he knew her grandfather and asked to talk with him in what he called "papa's truck," according to charging documents. The two went into the parking lot, and Garza asked her to follow him to his car and help him unload groceries, according to the documents.

They arrived at his pickup, and Garza asked the girl to get in the passenger's seat and put his groceries in the back seat, which she did, according to the documents.

Garza asked her name and other questions, and she tried to leave the truck but couldn't get the door open, according to documents. He then allegedly slid closer to her, offered a pipe, which she declined, and gave her vape pens.

Garza then proceeded to allegedly assault the girl. The charging documents detailed how he allegedly kissed her, blew smoke into her mouth, pulled her pants down, and performed sex acts on her while holding her down.

Garza became distracted when a worker walked by and he tried to hike, and the girl pulled up her pants, opened the door and escaped, according to documents.

She did not know her assailant's name but provided a description to police. Surveillance video captured the two at the entrance of the store and walking into the parking lot.

Police obtained a search warrant for the records of a state benefits card that Garza used to make a purchase at Walmart, according to court documents. It was registered to another person, but police determined Garza was connected with that person through a criminal database and obtained his mug shot.

Garza was stopped for an alleged traffic violation Wednesday, Jan. 11 while driving a vehicle that matched the description from the Walmart surveillance video, according to documents.

He was arrested, and police have applied for a search warrant for his vehicle and DNA.