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'It's scary': A look back at a violent 2023 crime spree in Billings

Police making an arrest
Posted at 9:23 AM, Jan 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-02 11:23:57-05

As 2023 comes to a close, there's been a new push for expansion of the Yellowstone County jail after the city of Billings saw one of the most violent crime sprees in it's history towards the end of October.

During that 15-day span, there were a total of six shootings resulting in five deaths.

The spree began with the shooting death of Rocky Mountain College football player Chandler Stalcup, who was picking up his friends from a party when he was killed in what officers later confirmed was a gang related incident.

A few days later, 31-year-old Kenneth Morrison was shot and killed in his home. After being shot, Morrison fell onto his nearly one-year-old son Tatee'k Morrison, killing him as well.

Those three homicides were among the 12 that happened in Billings in 2023, matching the total seen in 2022.

The spree spanned across Billings, happening in many different parts of town, and that had residents on high alert.

"It doesn't even matter where you live anymore," Billings resident Avery Johnson said, after her neighbors home was hit in a drive by shooting during the spree. "It happens everywhere."

Bob Balko lives on the same block as Johnson and said that 15-day span had him speechless.

"I don't even know what to say," Balko said. "It's just, it's very nerve racking."

Jessica Dorsett lives next door to the Morrisons and said having that amount of crime so close to her doorstep was alarming.

"It's scary, you know," Dorsett said. "Especially when it happens this close to you."

That deadly spree is a big reason why residents began calling for change. Michelle Johnson attended a Yellowstone County Commissioners meeting in November imploring them to look at expanding the Yellowstone County Jail.

"We have to start looking at what can be done," Johnson said. "It's something that's needed to be done for some time.

During that meeting, Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund said that they were already looking at their options.

"We will be expanding, but we need to know what size and what type," Ostlund said.

Ostlund added, in an interview later that day with MTN, that it's going to be an expensive process and one that will take time.

"We're talking about a large expansion," Ostlund said. "I don't know, early estimates in my book are 80 to 100 million and we have to staff that, so it's going to be expensive."

Big decisions with large implications up ahead, that many residents will likely be getting their chance to vote on in 2024.

"We shouldn't have crime streaks like this in our city," Ostlund said.