BILLINGS — Violent crime continues. On Friday evening, a 17-year-old was shot and killed on the Billings South Side. This followed an 18-year-old who was shot and killed last Saturday—and a 31-year-old male and his infant son who were killed Wednesday.
It’s the fourth gun-related death seen in Billings over the last week.
"All of a sudden, gunshots rang out,” said Iren McCurdy, a witness to Friday evening's violence, on Friday. “Probably 15 or 16 (shots).”
Shots fired on the South Side Friday evening were red flags for residents who live near South Park after they say they've noticed a rise in violent activity in the area.
“It’s going to keep going back and forth until it stops," McCurdy said. "But when is it going to stop? It’s been going on as long as I can remember."
McCurdy, a Lodge Grass resident staying with a friend in Billings, was sitting outside in his pickup truck when he heard the commotion.
"I was in shock," McCurdy said. "I knew it was gunfire, but I really didn’t know what was going on until I saw them run by."
According to the Billings Police Department (BPD), on Friday evening around 8 p.m., officers responded to a shooting in an alleyway near South Park. Upon arrival, they located a 17-year-old with gunshot wounds and two others fleeing on foot.
In a press release, BPD said the initial investigation indicated that a group of juveniles had met near the scene when an altercation broke out. Multiple rounds were fired from a handgun.
"Two guys ran past my pickup. One went down on South 29th and the other one went up the alley," McCurdy said. “They were all youngsters too. 14, 15, or 16 (years old)."
The 17-year-old was shot and was later pronounced deceased, according to BPD. The two suspects were detained and were believed to have ties to a residence in the 600 block of S. 31st St.
Another neighbor who heard the ordeal was worried about their safety following the chaos. They agreed to an interview with MTN News as long as their identity remained anonymous.
"I'm very honestly scared of where I live right now," the neighbor told MTN Friday evening. "Up until the last couple of days, I had a very different opinion of where I live. I literally just pulled up the Zillow app just a few minutes ago, looking at moving."
That neighbor described what they heard right outside of their home.
“I was in my kitchen, which is just facing the area where the shooting happened. So I was cooking and I had a podcast on that I was listening to and I heard a bunch of loud popping sounds," The neighbor said. "So because they were all like, pretty fast and there were so many of them, I just figured that it had to be fireworks."
After learning they were in fact gunshots and not fireworks, the neighbor said they felt uneasy.
"I obviously am facing the reality that there are people living right around the corner who wish harm on others," the neighbor said. "It’s just devastating."
But the chaos didn’t end there.
"They were lighting off flashbangs," said Mike Boger, a Billings South Side resident, on Saturday. "They were on the PA system ordering everybody out of the house.”
Boger was taking his dog, Mac, out to use the bathroom Saturday morning around 7 a.m. when he heard a commotion coming from his neighbor’s house.
"It's an eye-opener. I moved back to Montana to get away from all the crime and all the drugs and all that," Boger said. "It just seems like it’s coming right into our hometown."
Billings police say SWAT was activated around 7:00 a.m. on Saturday at a residence in relation to the investigation.
That residence, located in the 600 block of S. 31st St., saw law enforcement on its doorstep in late July after it was targeted twice in one night with drive-by shootings. An 11-year-old girl was struck by a bullet in the shoulder while asleep in bed and taken to the hospital by family members following the first drive-by.
According to BPD, tactical teams made contact Saturday morning and were able to remove four individuals, 3 juveniles and 1 adult.
"It's a little scary, a little concerning," Boger said. "I’m more afraid for the children in the area than for myself."
Which is something echoed by the anonymous neighbor.
"If the stories and reports are true that this is gang-related, then there is a lot more gang influence here in Billings than I was previously aware of,” the neighbor said.
Neighbors are now left feeling fearful for the future.
"It's senseless. It’s all senseless,” Boger said. “I’m grateful for the police department. They respond well, they do a great job, and they’re keeping us all safe. But we need to do more as a community. We need to work together. If we see something, we need to say something. We need to get involved."
Billings Police Department's press release on the matter:
"On November 3, 2023 at approximately 8:06 pm Officers with the Billings Police Department responded to a weapons complaint in the 500 block of South 29th Street. As Officers arrived in the area they observed multiple people running from the scene and located a 17 year old local male with gunshot wounds. Officers, Fire, and AMR provided medical care on the scene and the victim was transported by medical. Officers from BPD, Deputies from YCSO, and Troopers with MHP began canvasing the area and were able to locate two juvenile individuals believed to be involved. The victim was later pronounced deceased at the hospital.
The initial investigation indicates a group of juveniles had met at the location of the scene and an altercation erupted. During the altercation the suspect(s) began firing a handgun and multiple rounds were fired.
Investigators were able to determine potential involved parties had ties to a residence in the 600 block of South 31st.
On November 4, 2023 at approximately 7:00 am BPD SWAT, YCSO SRT, BPD Negotiators, and BPD Drone team were all activated to the residence on South 31st. Tactical teams made contact with individuals inside and were able to remove four (4) individuals from the residence, three (3) juveniles and one (1) adult.
At the time of this release the investigation is ongoing. Investigators are continuing to work on identifying and locating all of the involved parties.
The BPD would like to thank the supporting agencies; Billings Fire Department, AMR, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, and Montana Highway Patrol."
Update 10 a.m. Saturday
Law enforcement has cleared the scene on the 600 block of South 31st Street, according to a community service officer in the neighborhood.
No word on any other arrests, or if police are seeking other suspects.
Update 9 a.m. Saturday
The Billings Police Department SWAT and the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team are at a residence on the 600 block of South 31st Street related to the Friday night shooting.
The immediate area surrounding the house will be closed during the investigation.
This is a developing story. Check back for details.
A 17-year-old boy was shot Friday night on Billings South Side and later died.
Billings police said on social media that officers responded to the 500 block between South 28th Street and South 29th Street around 8 p.m. that the boy had been shot, with others fleeing the area.
Billings police and Yellowstone County sheriff's deputies detained two suspects, according to a social media post.
The boy was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Billings police are investigating.
This is a developing story. Check back for details.