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Billings West End community holds BBQ to thank first responders

Posted at 10:27 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 00:27:08-04

BILLINGS — On Wednesday, the community near Rimrock West Park on Billings West End invited first responders to a dinner party at the park.

The party on Rangeview Drive was held to thank the first responders who Cami Chandler, a member of the community and event organizer, said did a great job in keeping people safe during the standoff.

The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office brought in its helicopter and gave tours, and the SWAT team did the same with its armored vehicle which they call “The Bear.”

Dozens of community members showed up and cooked and brought food, including hot dogs and watermelon.

“We just felt the need to get to know our neighbors and more than that just a show of gratitude for the am azing first responders that kept us safe that day,” says Chandler.

The neighborhood was the scene of a dramatic police chase April 23, which ended when a suspect vehicle crashed and its occupants fled. One woman, Kristy Chavez, was arrested after the crash, and another suspect, Michael Lee McClure, barricaded himself in a home in a standoff with police for nine hours before killing himself.

The two were suspects in the carjacking and killing of a Wyoming father, Dennis Gresham, earlier that day at a Billings campground.

Debbie Klusmann, the owner of the home on 43rd Street West where the suspect barricaded himself, suggested every community having a neighborhood watch, and said this community has been very kind to her since this all happened.

“Well, I’ve got the support of my family and friends and the neighbors who are being awesome tonight. I can’t believe how many neighbors have come up to me tonight and said kind words with tears in their eyes and are praying for me. It’s good that I came," she said.

Kim Vopel, another neighbor, remarked that the event has helped bring the neighborhood closer in some ways.