Suspect dead after shoot-out

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Aftermath The vehicle of Douglas J. Foster, a suspect in a Lewistown homicide, is shown shortly after Foster’s shoot-out with Dillon law enforcement Sunday night. The windshield shows at least seven bullet holes. Foster was pronounced dead at the scene. J.P. Plutt photo

Aftermath The vehicle of Douglas J. Foster, a suspect in a Lewistown homicide, is shown shortly after Foster’s shoot-out with Dillon law enforcement Sunday night. The windshield shows at least seven bullet holes. Foster was pronounced dead at the scene. J.P. Plutt photo

Local law enforcement became involved in a shootout Sunday night with a man wanted in connection with a homicide in Lewistown (see related story page 10). Following a brief high speed chase, the suspect pulled over at the south end of town and fired shots at the responding officers from the cab of his vehicle. The officers responded with deadly force.

Douglas J. Foster, 47, was pronounced dead at the scene. Shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday night, Dillon Police Officer Jared Rumsey responded to a call from a local motel, according to Dillon Police Chief Don Guiberson. The motel employee reported they recognized a man checking into the motel as a wanted homicide suspect from the Lewistown area. The caller reported the man was acting in a bizarre manner and had left the motel. The caller provided a vehicle description and direction of travel.

The BOLO (Be On the Look Out) Alert advised Foster was armed and dangerous. With that information, Rumsey requested back-up and received it from Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Bowman. The officers located the suspects vehicle and attempted a traffic stop.

“They did their best to get into the least populated area they could,” said Guiberson.

When the traffic stop was initiated at the south end of Dillon, Foster sped down Atlantic Street and turned just before the South Interchange, at Southside Boulevard. With both the officer and deputy in pursuit, Foster flipped a U-turn at the corner of State Street and Southside Boulevard and parked adjacent to Dairy Queen, with his headlights pointed in the direction of the law enforcement vehicles.

Now in a face off, the law enforcement officers commanded the suspect to shut off and exit the vehicle. Foster refused to comply and instead fired shots at the officers from the cab of his truck. After the first shot, officers scrambled for cover. After the second shot, officers responded with deadly force. There were at least seven bullet holes in the windshield of Foster’s vehicle.
Tina Dumezich, the Dairy Queen manager, heard the beginning of the high speed chase on her home police scanner. When she heard Dairy Queen, she called the store.

“I was at home and I heard there was a high-speed chase going and I wasn’t concerned until I heard it was by the Dairy Queen,” said Dumezich. “At that point I called the store and had the store lock down. I heard shooting (over the scanner), so I told the employees to take all of the customers and get in the cooler.”

According to Dumezich, there were six customers in the store. Dumezich said the employees and customers in the Dairy Queen did not hear the shots being fired outside the business.</xhtml:p>
“They all fit in the cooler except for one employee who stayed outside the cooler so he could stay on the phone with me,” said Dumezich. “Once I said it was clear, the customers and employees exited out the side door away from the activity.”

Across the street at the Town &amp; Country Store, Manger Katherine Scarffe became aware of the incident by phone call.

“Around 8:20 to 8:30, I got a call from a customer that just left our store and she said there was a situation outside and that we needed to close,” said Scharffe. “By the time I got to the front of the store, two customers were walking back in and they said, ‘There’s something wrong.’”

Scharffe locked up the store, and joined another employee and four customers behind the locked doors until the situation was resolved. Once the customers left, Scharffe closed the store for the night. Scharffe added that she did not hear gun shots during the shoot-out.

According to Guiberson, the officers involved were diligent in recording the entire incident with both their body cameras and with the cameras in their vehicles. Guiberson emphasized that the officers reacted to the situation with professionalism and did everything by the book.

Because it was an officer-involved shooting, a request was immediately filed to have the Montana Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) handle the investigation of the shooting. DCI investigators were on scene within two hours.

Within minutes of the incident, law enforcement officers began arriving to secure the scene. In short order, there were three Dillon Police Department officers, two sheriff’s deputies, the sheriff, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper, and a Fish &amp; Game warden on hand to help with the scene.

The officers involved are on paid administrative leave per policy until the DCI investigation is complete, according to Guiberson. He added counseling is available should the officers require assistance.

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