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'Frozen in shock': Neighbors react to Billings standoff

'Frozen in shock': Neighbors react to Birch Lane standoff
Posted at 8:20 AM, Mar 20, 2023

BILLINGS — After a 14-hour standoff in the Billings Heights, officers were able to convince 57-year-old Mary White Crane to surrender and residents were able to return home Saturday night after being evacuated.

Parker Sinks lives across from White Crane on the 700 block of Birch Lane with his grandmother. He said he woke up to loud noises outside the home Saturday morning.

“I had woken up to a loud boom and had enough time to throw some clothes on, peek my head around the corner of the house and I had seen a police officer fall. And after that I was kind of frozen in shock,” Sinks said Sunday. "I was like, wow I really just saw that.”

Sinks watched as White Crane shot an officer.

“Ever since then, I’ve been thinking like, what if that was one of my family members? Or my grandma, who I live with,” he said. “I’m doing okay. I’m a little traumatized, a little shocked.”

Billings Police Lt. Matt Lennick said in a press release the officer that was shot is receiving medical care at a local hospital.

"Officers attempted contact with the suspect for approximately two hours with no cooperation from the suspect. At approximately 10:45 a.m. Officers with BPD SWAT attempted to deliver a throw phone to the suspect in an attempt to establish a line of communication. The suspect fired at Officers, striking one Officer. Officers returned fire but the suspect was able to retreat into the residence unharmed," Lennick said.

According to Lennick, White Crane became cooperative and eventually surrendered after law enforcement used a fire hose to spray water into her home.

White Crane is in custody at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility and is charged with three counts of felony criminal endangerment, two counts of criminal mischief and one count of attempted deliberate homicide.

Billings police were still at White Crane's home Sunday afternoon processing the scene.

Lesya Zakahchenko said she was at work by 5 a.m. Saturday morning, so she wasn't evacuated by police but was confused when her street was blocked when she returned home at 10 a.m.

Zakahchenko has lived in the area for three years and said this was "not the first Mary trouble."

“I didn’t want police to shoot her, you know, even with all this, her trouble in the neighborhood. But she’s still human," Zakahchenko said.

When she found out why she couldn't get to her home, Zakahchenko couldn't help but remember the conversation she had with White Crane on Friday. She said White Crane came over and was talking "crazy."

“Why I think she was prepared, she talks about she bought a very strong coverage for her front door and nobody can get in if she locks it,” Zakahchenko said. "[White Crane asked] please watch my property because I will probably be gone tomorrow, so I guess she knew something.”

Zakahchenko said she didn't think to contact the police because White Crane was not acting "aggressive" and was just "chatting away."