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Hamilton man charged with shooting at police

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Hamilton man pleads guilty to attempted negligent homicide in 2020 shooting

Tyler Kain Butler shortly after his arrest in January 2020. On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to attempted deliberate homicide and four felony counts of criminal endangerment for firing nearly 70 times through his apartment door. 

A 23-year-old Hamilton man was charged with numerous felonies, including three counts of attempted deliberate homicide, after allegedly firing an estimated 67 rounds in a Hamilton apartment complex Saturday.

Tyler Kain Butler was arraigned Monday before Ravalli County Justice Jennifer Ray.

Butler was arrested Saturday following a standoff with Hamilton police at an apartment complex on Hamilton’s east side.

According to Deputy County Attorney Thorin Geist’s charging affidavit, Hamilton police were dispatched to the apartment complex at about 10:40 p.m. after a neighbor called to report that a man was threatening to kill two women in an apartment located on Pintail Loop. The woman who called said the man had a bloody nose and a woman had just left the apartment to put clothing in a vehicle in the parking lot.

When the first two officers arrived on the scene, they hear several loud bangs west of their position.

The apartment complex has eight units, four upstairs and four downstairs.

The initial bangs were followed by a second set of five to seven shots a short time later. 

A downstairs tenant directed the officers to an upstairs apartment. The officers found five to 10 bullet holes in the door to one of the apartments on the second floor.

Another officer joined the two already on the scene. They announced their presence and ordered the shooter to come to the door.

Butler allegedly responded by firing another 15 rounds through the door, which forced the officers to take cover. As one called for assistance, Butler allegedly fired 20 to 30 more shots through the door.

Two men arrived at the apartment and demanded to speak to Butler. One man was talking to Butler on a cell phone at the time. One of the officers used that phone to speak to Butler, who continued to shoot through the door.

Butler told the officer that his family was in a nearby parking lot and was fine. He also told the officer he was alone in the apartment.

The officer told Butler that no one needed to get hurt. Butler allegedly replied that he would kill any law enforcement officer who came to the door. When the officer told Butler that no one needed to die, Butler allegedly fired several more rounds through the door, according to the affidavit.

Butler then told the officer he was coming out and to not shoot him.

Upon leaving the apartment, Butler initially complied with police instructions, but then became combative and said repeatedly that officers should shoot him, according to the affidavit.

An AR-15 with a bipod was located inside the apartment, facing the front door. The firearm was still smoking when the officers entered the room. Additional loaded magazines and ammunition were nearby.

The smoke detector in the unit was going off due to the gun smoke.

Two officers attempted to make contact with the tenant directly across from the landing where Butler. The unit’s door was riddled with bullet holes. After no one responded, one of the officers kicked in the door to determine whether anyone inside needed medical attention.

A woman was found inside the building. The affidavit said she was terrified, but unhurt. The police later determined that 29 rounds had traveled through her apartment.

The woman said she was in her living room when the shooting began. She crawled to her back bedroom, where she hid next to a bathtub for cover. One bullet penetrated the apartment’s back bedroom.

Tenants in the unit directly below the unit where Butler was arrested said they heard a verbal disturbance between a man and woman at about 10 p.m. They reported several loud thuds, which sounded like furniture being thrown about the apartment.

The tenants reported hearing Butler’s girlfriend say, “You get out of my (expletive) face,” and Butler respond, “You’re going to jail for hitting me.” After that, they said the woman left the apartment and drove off. A man arrived a short time later and another argument ensued.

The gunfire started shortly after that man left the residence.

Other tenants reported hearing the argument and gunfire. No one was injured.

At the detention center, Butler told a detective that he got into a verbal argument with his girlfriend and her mother. After they left the residence, he said he noticed at an AK-47 rifle was missing from beside his bed, which made him upset.

Butler told the detective that he retrieved his AR-15 from a gun safe, set it up on the floor and began firing through his bedroom door, the affidavit said.

Several firearms and several hundreds of rounds of ammunition were recovered from inside the apartment, along with pipes commonly used to smoke marijuana.

A detective found 67 spent .223 casings near the rifle. Damage to the building was estimated at more than $1,500.

The affidavit said a detective reviewed a call that Butler made to his mother and sister from the detention center on Jan. 5. Butler allegedly told them he didn’t remember what happened and that he had “blacked out, lost my (expletive).”

He also said, “I’m just glad I didn’t hurt anybody.”

During his Monday arraignment, Butler grimaced and shook his head slowly as he listened to the judge read off the charges.

Ray told Butler the affidavit was amongst the worst she’s read in her 18 years of Justice Court service and that the incident could have led to the deaths of the officers who responded.

In addition to the attempted deliberate homicide charges, Butler faces felony counts of assault with a weapon, criminal endangerment, and two counts of criminal mischief.

Ray set bail at $250,000. If Butler is released, he will be required to turn over all of his firearms to the Hamilton Police Department and wear a GPS collar.

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