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Security questions emerge following MetraPark stabbing

MetraPark security
Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-05 18:14:17-05

Questions regarding the security at MetraPark have emerged after a stabbing occurred during the Southern B divisional basketball tournament Friday in one of the arena's stairwells.

The incident involved a 15-year-old male suspect, who allegedly stabbed and seriously injured an 18-year-old man.

Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund said that the people involved may have ties to gang activity.

"It appears that there is certainly some connections to gang activity and that they very well could've known each other," Ostlund said Monday afternoon. "I actually look forward to seeing the charging documents in court. It'll explain a lot to the public about the type of people we're dealing with."

In an email Monday, Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito couldn't corroborate Ostlund's claim.

"At this time, based on the information provided by YCSO, we cannot say that the criminal action was directly gang-related," Twito's email read.

The 15-year-old was arrested Saturday and has not yet been formally charged related to the stabbing.

This incident isn't the first time that violence has broken out during a big event at MetraPark. In August of 2022, a shooting during the MontanaFair sent many families running for their lives and led to big security changes.

"We were concerned that there was talk of gang violence, so we stepped up the security and it worked very well," Ostlund said.

In all events, the level of security is determined by the promoter or whomever is hosting the event. The MontanaFair had increased security in 2023 because the event is hosted by the county, so Ostlund and other county commissioners increased the law enforcement presence following the violence.

This weekend's divisional basketball tournament was hosted by the Montana High School Association and Ostlund said that group opted not to have certain security in place like metal detectors. On Saturday, following the incident, the metal detectors were up and running.

"We rent the facility," Ostlund said. "The promoter or high school association or whoever rents it has the ability to determine the level of security. Now, of course there's a cost with that. If you hire sheriff's deputies and put metal detectors up, there's a cost to that and it has to be worn by the people attending the event."

The MHSA director told MTN that they will be speaking with MetraPark event staff on Tuesday to learn more about the stabbing incident and security and to plan ahead for this upcoming weekend. MetraPark is hosting the Class B basketball state tournaments, and Ostlund acknowledged that security could look a little different.

"Metra is our Yellowstone County entertainment center, and it's very important to us," Ostlund said. "We'll talk about what policy changes we might look at going forward."