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Missoula Police: Lockdown Lifted, Investigation Ongoing Into Patrol Car Shooting

A Missoula police officer stands at a barricade in front of the courthouse, Feb. 12, 2020. Police say shots were fired at a police car earlier in the day.
A Missoula police officer stands at a barricade in front of the courthouse, Feb. 12, 2020. Police say shots were fired at a police car earlier in the day.

Much of downtown Missoula was on lockdown Wednesday after a police officer reported his patrol car was fired upon.

Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welsh says the officer was driving northbound on the 400 block of Woody Street at about 9:45 a.m. when the rear window of his cruiser was shot out.

"He radioed for backup; he immediately sought cover away from his vehicle and prepared to deal with a threat. As other officers converged on the area they set up a perimeter and began to investigate what had happened."

The department says no injuries have been reported.

After the initial report, police locked-down Missoula City Hall and several county buildings, including the Courthouse and Administration building. Police also closed streets in a five-block radius surrounding the Courthouse.

Welsh says the perimeter was taken down and the lockdown was lifted as of 3:15 p.m.

Welsh says the police department searched the area for suspects and evidence with help from the Missoula County Sheriff's Office, Montana Highway Patrol and FBI. He says officers are on alert and are prepared to deal with similar threats.

"Certainly every law enforcement officer in the county, if not in this half of the state, and probably in the northwest part of the country, is aware of what happened here today."

Welsh says the police department does not believe there’s an immediate threat to the public, but the investigation is ongoing.

He says the department does not have a description or identity of a suspect.

"But we continue to hope that there’s somebody out there that may be able to help us in that regard."

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Missoula Detective Guy Baker at 406-552-5600.

Update 3:30 p.m.

The Missoula Police Department has given the all-clear downtown, saying the lockdowns have been lifted and they don't believe there's any threat to the public. Pine and Woody streets have reopened.

Update 2:50 p.m.

The lockdown at Missoula City Hall is now lifted. All county buildings, including the Courthouse, Administration building, Youth Court and Relationship Violence Services have also reopened. But that doesn't mean the incident is over. Street closures remain in place in parts of downtown.

Missoula City Police spokesman, Sergeant Travis Welsh tells Montana Public Radio the perimeter downtown has been adjusted and remains on Woody St. between W. Spruce and W. Broadway. The east/west boundaries are on W. Pine, between Orange St. and the Mountain Line Bus Depot at Ryman & W. Pine. Police ask people to continue avoiding the perimeter.

Update 12:30 p.m.

Missoula law enforcement have blocked parts of downtown after shots were fired at a police car driven by an officer, according to the following alert sent out by the University of Montana around 10:30 a.m.:

Missoula Police have blocked a portion of downtown Missoula near the police department and the Mountain Line transfer station after shots were fired at a police car being driven by an officer. No injuries reported. As a result, city buses are being rerouted, streets surrounding the Missoula County Courthouse and police station (Spruce, Pine, Ryman, Woody, etc.) in a five-block radius are closed ...

City and county buildings downtown are locked-down. Police are asking people to avoid the areas of Ryman and Pine, Woody and Pine, Ryman and Broadway and Woody and Broadway.

As of 12:30 p.m. one parent of Hellgate High School students says the lockdown there has been lifted.

MTPR has a reporter on the scene. This post will be updated with more info as it comes in.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.