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Woman shot in officer-involved shooting has died

billings standoff.jpg
Posted at 8:22 PM, Mar 25, 2023

BILLINGS — UPDATE: The 35-year old woman involved in Saturday night's robbery, standoff and officer involved shooting has now died.

Multiple family members have identified that woman as Vilene Not Afraid.

According to Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick that situation began in the 4600 block of Western Sky Drive at around 4:00 p.m.. Officers were told the suspect was involved in a disturbance, before shooting a firearm in the air and stealing the victim's vehicle.

Officers located the stolen vehicle on King Avenue West and attempted to conduct a traffic stop, but Not Afraid fled, leading police on a pursuit through downtown and the heights.

During that chase, she hit two un-involved vehicles near the intersection of Main Street and Lake Elmo Drive, severely damaging her vehicle.

Chris Ackerman was stopped at the intersection when Not Afraid hit the vehicles.

“It was just a complete shock to just be sitting at a traffic light and have somebody push their way through, successfully pushing their way through a group of stopped cars,” Ackerman said.

He had no idea that what he had witnessed would quickly turn into a standoff, but when he turned down Sixth Avenue North he saw a large law enforcement presence.

“Maybe closer to ten police officers with their lights on in all directions kind of facing that car,” Ackerman said.

The car Not Afraid was driving eventually stopped operating around the 900 block of Sixth Avenue North and that's when the standoff began.

Officers confirmed the suspect was still armed and the Billings Police Department and Yellowstone County Sheriff Office's SWAT teams were activated.

Officers worked on negotiations for around two hours, but the suspect refused to cooperate.

SWAT officers then deployed gas into the vehicle, causing the suspect to exit with the firearm pointed at officers.

At that time, a Yellowstone County SWAT officer fired his weapon at her.

She was transported, but was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Yellowstone County Deputy who fired his weapon has been placed on administrative leave.

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(FIRST REPORT) A 35-year-old woman was shot and injured by Billings police on the city's north side Saturday night after she allegedly stole and wrecked a vehicle, then holed up inside during a two-hour standoff.

Police responded to a call of an attempted robbery and stolen vehicle around 5:30 p.m. on the 1100 block of Sixth Avenue North, according to Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick.

The woman, who was not identified, fired a shot from a handgun during the robbery and wrecked the allegedly stolen vehicle during the robbery, according to police.

After crashing, she remained armed and did not comply with police commands, leading to a two-hour standoff, police said. Negotiators and the SWAT team were both on the scene attempting to get the woman out of the vehicle, according to police.

After two hours, police fired gas canisters into the vehicle, which forced the woman to exit with her gun, according to police.

Lennick said he was unsure whether she fired, but officers did fire and injure her. He said he was also unsure how many officers fired.

She was taken to a local hospital. Police released no information about her condition.