Sheldon Bernard Chase, a suspect in a triple homicide in Montana was apprehended on October 5. Three American Indians were shot and killed on the Crow Reservation at approximately noon on October 4. The three have been identified as 80 year-old Gloria Sarah Goes Ahead Cummins, 21 year-old Levon F. Driftwood, granddaughter of the older woman, and 20 year-old Rueben Charles Jefferson.
The shooting occurred near Lodge Grass, Montana south of the Big Hole Battlefield and about 20 miles north of the Wyoming line in Montana.
Debbie Dujanovic, Public Affairs Specialist for the FBI in the Salt Lake City Division, explained, “Two of them were relatives of the suspect. Another individual was in the home at the time.”
Chase was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon, just west of Spokane, Washington in the Spokane Valley during a traffic stop. A wanted flier had been distributed throughout a several state region just a few hours earlier and the manhunt had stretched from the site of the killings across many of the northern states. Several schools were closed in Montana and North Dakota and residents had been encouraged to stay indoors for safety.
The arrest was a coordinated effort involving a number of enforcement agencies. Included were the FBI, Spokane Valley Police, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Spokane Violent Crime Gang Enforcement, and the Spokane Police Patrol Anti-Crime Team.
Chase had moved from North Dakota where he had grown up to the Lodge Grass area of Montana and was attending Little Bighorn College.
Eric Barnhart, FBI supervisor in Billings, was quoted in the Spokesman Review saying they are still trying to piece together what led to the shooting. “We still don’t know. With some history of mental illness, that’s an X factor.”
Crow Tribal Chairman Cedric Black Eagle was quoted in the Billings Gazette saying, “He (Chase) is not a tribal member but his mother is a tribal member. His father is from North Dakota.”
Chairman Black Eagle was also quoted saying, “In the coming days we need to pull together even tighter as a community and support these families in every way possible.”
After the shooting became known public buildings on the reservation were closed down and students at Lodge Grass High School were also told to stay inside as a precautionary measure.