NewsCrime and Courts


$1.5M bond set for man charged with shooting two women south of Billings

Man also accused of trying to rape one of the shooting victims
Posted at 10:50 AM, Feb 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-03 12:06:23-05

BILLINGS - Two people who fled from a vehicle after the driver suddenly shot a 14-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman in a remote area south of Billings said they believed they were going to be killed.

"We were next. He was gonna kill us," one of the witnesses told law enforcement shortly after the shooting.

Details of the harrowing crime were released Thursday in court records charging a 32-year-old man with not only shooting two people but then attempting to rape the younger victim in the backseat of a vehicle while she was bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head.

Carl Chester Alden was charged in Yellowstone County District Court with multiple offenses, including two counts of attempted deliberate homicide, two counts of assault with a weapon, and one count of attempted sexual intercourse without consent. Prosecutors also filed alternative charges of assault with a weapon to the attempted murder charges.

Yellowstone County District Court Judge Rod Souza set Alden's bond at $1.5 million after a prosecutor said Alden was on meth at the time of the shooting. The prosecutor also told the judge Alden has a prior criminal record, and said it was possible the 14-year-old victim may not survive. Alden has a prior felony conviction in federal court for involuntary manslaughter stemming from a fatal drunken-driving crash on the Crow Reservation.

Alden was arrested Monday afternoon in the Blue Creek area south of Billings after the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office received several 911 calls reporting a shooting. The charging documents state that one of the emergency calls came from a man advising that he encountered two people - a man and woman in their 30s - while road grading and the two had fled from a vehicle following a shooting.

Another of the emergency calls from the 18-year-old woman who had been shot in the face, court records state.

The shooting happened on Cormier Road. The first deputies to arrive at the scene said they first encountered the injured 18-year-old woman who had taken refuge in the vehicle of a "concerned bystander," court records state. The woman had blood on her hands and was holding her face, and the deputy could see an injury to her jaw. The woman told the deputy she had been shot by Alden and her 14-year-old niece was still in the Dodge Durango with him.

Deputies continued down Cormier Road and located the road grader with the worker and two people who fled the Durango during the shooting. The two witnesses, identified in court records only by their initials, were "hysterical and told law enforcement that the Defendant (Alden) was still in the car with another female. The man said Alden had two guns but he was able to wrestle one of them away and hide it from Alden.

Both "kept repeating 'he was going to shoot us' while crying heavily," court records state. They also identified the 14-year-old still in the Durango and said they believed she "was going to die, or had done so already."

Shawn French was driving the snowplow. He was blowing snow off of the county road when he stumbled onto the scene.

“There were two of them running towards me, and I knew something was wrong. Something wasn’t right,” French said Thursday afternoon. "They were just saying there was a guy shooting these girls and stuff like that. So I just picked them up and proceeded to call 9-1-1 and get the big boys coming out there."

The deputies could see the nearby Durango had become stuck in a ditch. As they approached they saw Alden moving around inside and he stepped out of the vehicle from the backseat on the driver's side, court records state. Deputies ordered Alden to walk backward to toward them, but Alden instead turned around and "began approaching them aggressively."

Alden's clothing was "disheveled, in disarray, and covered in blood." He was Tased and arrested.

Inside the Durango deputies located the girl, who was described as "awake and breathing, but incoherent." She had blood on her face, head and hair, and her clothing had been partially removed, court records state.

The girl was taken from the scene by an ambulance and later flown to a children's hospital in Denver where she remains.

"Preliminary reports indicate a bullet entered her brain and a prognosis is unknown," court records state.

The 18-year-old woman is being treated for two gunshot wounds to the face and neck area.

The woman in her 30s later told investigators that the five of them had started their day in Lodge Grass before heading to Billings. After Billings, the group went to Pryor, and Alden drove them around the countryside. At one point Alden used methamphetamine, the woman said, and "began acting strange, and was very argumentative."

After shooting a road sign with a revolver, the woman said, Alden got into an argument with the teenager in the vehicle and suddenly, while driving, "turned around, grabbed the revolver and shot (the two victims) in rapid succession." As he was doing so, she said, the Durango went into a ditch and got stuck.

Alden then told the woman and man in the vehicle to "get rid of those girls." When the two refused, Alden allegedly began threatening them and told them again to push the teenager and young woman into the snow. The two instead fled for help and came across the worker in the road grader.

As for French, he's just happy he was in the right place at the right time.

“I was just helping people out. It’s what we do, that’s why we’re out there," French said. "The way they were dressed. It’s hard to know that they would’ve lived through it trying to find help from anybody."

RELATED: Man arrested after 2 women shot south of Billings