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Big Horn County sheriff looking for suspect in attempted homicide case

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Posted at 10:02 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 11:57:46-04

A Hardin man who was shot in the stomach in late April and spent days in the ICU and in a coma is finally out of the hospital.

But now Sergio Lopez is furious because he says the man who shot him is no longer behind bars.

Paul Amyotte was apprehended shortly after that alleged shooting, but for a DUI- not for pulling the trigger. The charge was criminal endangerment, and later he was released and now he's a wanted fugitive.

Amyotte Paul 2019 Mugshot.jpg
KTVQ photo

"I didn't think I was gonna make it," said Lopez, who was shot in Hardin. "First thing I said was, forgive me, Lord for whatever I did. And if there's room for me at the gates, you know, welcome me in because I think I'm coming."

Lopez can't believe he's here after a close encounter with death.

He says it all started on April 22, when Amyotte, an acquaintance, threatened him with a .22 caliber rifle in Dunsmore, about five miles south of Hardin.

"Moved his head out of the way and that gun was still pointing at my face," Lopez said. "I grabbed the gun and I hit him and I knocked him out. And after that, I ran into my car and I came home."

Later, according to court filings, Amyotte had arrived at Lopez's home with a 12-pack of beer and a .300 Winchester Magnum caliber rifle.

He handed the gun to Lopez, who fired a shot into the ceiling and gave the gun back to Amyotte, who Lopez says then shot him.

"When he had the gun pointed at me, I knew I knew he was gonna pull the trigger," Lopez said.

Amyotte was later apprehended and Lopez was rushed to the hospital, but Amyotte was never charged with firing the weapon.

Instead, he was pulled over that same day for drunken driving. He served a 40-day sentence for DUI and criminal endangerment and was released.

"There's somebody out there on the loose then that that's a danger to the community," he said.

Lopez and his family now fear what Amy could do next.

Big Horn County Attorney Jay Harris calls him a fugitive of justice who should be considered potentially armed and dangerous.

He says Amyotte was released by the Bureau of Indian Affairs while the county was building a case despite having "an active arrest warrant" out of Missoula for a separate probation violation.

Harris calls the release unfortunate and is calling on the Crow tribe to make changes.

Harris stated in an email: “It is unquestionably in the best interests of the safety of our local Community and the efficiency and effectiveness of our local criminal justice systems for the Crow Tribe to either substantially adopt the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, or to enact an extradition agreement to prevent persons with active State arrest warrants from being released from tribal custody and thereby instantly becoming fugitives from justice.”

Q2 News contacted the BIA, and the public information officer is looking into the case.

"I don't feel protected," Lopez said.

Lopez is thankful for the Hardin police who continue to patrol around his home looking for the man and who almost took his life. A man who has now wanted for attempted deliberate homicide.

"I got trips to make to the doctor, but I feel like I'm gonna be okay," he said. "A-Okay."