JENS - A road access dispute in a remote part of Powell County last month quickly turned violent.
“He’s got a gun, mama,” a 16-year-old boy says in cellphone video. “Mama, they got guns coming at us. I got hit! I got hit! Let me out mama, let me out!”
The boy was shot in the shoulder the evening of July 24 while riding in the truck with his family on Outback Lane just north of Jens, Montana.
Powell County police arrested Jeffrey Hawks, who faces four counts of attempted deliberate homicide. Police say the July 24 shooting was over a right-of-way dispute between Hawks and the alleged victims.
Tabitha Mathes and her three sons say they are lucky to be alive.
The family was using the road that runs Hawks’ property to get to their adjacent property when the shooting started. Hawks has been given a $150,000 bond, and the Mathes family is staying with family in Butte for fear of his possible release from jail.
“It was an ambush, it was premeditated and it was an ambush and we are so mad at the low bond. Four counts of, it’s attempted murder is what it is, you can dress the words up all you want,” said Tabitha.
The family says the shooter was about 30 yards away and fired directly at their truck. You can see three of the bullet holes in the windshield. The one in the center is the one they think hit Austin the right shoulder.
“It threw me kind of backwards to the seat and, because I was kind of leaning up forward and when my adrenaline went down, the pain was very, very bad,” said Austin Mathes.
Tabitha recalled, “My 16-year-old, I heard him say, ‘God, please don’t let me die.’ Our truck was stuck there, we had to run out on foot with no phone signal, had to run to a neighbor’s house and ask them to call 911.”
Weeks after the shooting, the family is still traumatized.
“It makes you not want to trust people, scared, paranoid. When a loud noise happens, my son jumps,” said Tabitha.
Austin has been receiving counseling since the shooting and will require surgery on his shoulder.