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Hamilton man charged with aggravated assault
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Hamilton man charged with aggravated assault

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A Hamilton man who allegedly strangled a man and stole his pistol allegedly told an officer he did so because he felt disrespected.

Malik Salim Vadheim, 37, appeared in Ravalli County Justice Court on a felony count of aggravated assault and misdemeanor charges of assault and theft.

According to the charging affidavit, Ravalli County sheriff’s deputies responded to a disturbance at about 7 p.m. at the home of the alleged victim’s mother.

The man told the deputy he and his wife had been friends with Vadheim for years. Over the last month, the man said he had begun to fear for his safety after Vadheim began acting strangely and engaging in erratic behavior.

On May 5, the man said he had received several phone calls from Vadheim that caused him enough concern to stay in Missoula with his wife until Vadheim calmed down. On their way to Missoula, the couple had stopped at the man’s mother’s home to pick up their young daughter.

While driving to his mother’s home, the man said they passed Vadheim driving in the opposite direction. Vadheim followed them to the home and then parked across the driveway blocking the exit.

The affidavit said Vadheim then ran down the driveway and grabbed the alleged victim by his neck. The man told an officer he had “no clue what is going on.” He reported being unable to breathe and feeling pain. “I thought he was going to collapse my throat,” the man said.

Following a scuffle, the man ran toward the home to get away from Vadheim.

At that point, Vadheim partially entered the couple’s car. The man’s wife had been waiting in the vehicle. With her 1-year-old daughter in the car, the woman said she was afraid and attempted to pull Vadheim out of the vehicle.

The affidavit said Vadheim took the man’s 9mm semi-automatic handgun out of the vehicle and then pushed the woman to the ground. Vadheim had gone shooting recreationally with the man and therefore knew where the pistol was kept in the car.

Vadheim then ran back to his vehicle and left the area.

A Hamilton police officer eventually located Vadheim at the Taco Bell drive-thru. The affidavit said as he was being arrested, Vadheim asked the officer to take the handgun, to not tow his vehicle, and to just take him to jail.

The handgun was located in the middle console of the car.

During the trip through Hamilton to the detention center, the affidavit said Vandheim made multiple comments about feeling like he was in the “Truman Show,” with citizens waving to signal that he was on the right path in life.

While being booked, Vandheim asked the officer if he could tell her his motivation behind the incident.

After being reminded of his Miranda warning, Vadheim responded: “That’s right, it could be used as evidence, I just wanted to say I did what did because he disrespected me.”

Ravalli County Justice Jennifer Ray set bail at $20,000.

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