Aug. 29 Regional News Briefs

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Sheriff’s deputy cleared in shooting of suicidal man

HELENA (AP) — A Montana sheriff’s deputy who killed a suicidal man in February has been cleared.

The Independent Record reports that a Helena jury unanimously concluded Monday that Lewis and Clark County Deputy Andrew Blythe was justified in shooting Taylor Schnortz in his home.

A woman living with Schnortz said he was suffering a “psychotic break” and had been sending her photos of cuts he had made on his arm.

According to inquest testimony, Blythe and other deputies failed to persuade Schnortz to let them take him to the hospital but offered to have him talk to his father by phone. Before that could happen,

Schnortz came around a corner holding a .44 caliber pistol in what Blythe believed to be a firing position. Blythe shot him eight times with an AR-15 rifle.

Investigation: 15 dead horses found on Fort Peck Reservation

BILLINGS (AP) — Authorities have launched an investigation after 15 horses were found dead in a pasture on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

The Billings Gazette reports the horses were found north of Wolf Point last week and appear to have been dead for about five days before a resident alerted tribal wildlife officials.

Fort Peck Fish and Game Director Robert Magnan says the horses may have died from dehydration. About 10 of the horses were found near a dried-up water source. The other carcasses were scattered around the pasture.

Magnan says the tribe and the Roosevelt County Sheriff's Office are working with the state Department of Livestock to identify the horses' owners.

The investigation could result in animal cruelty charges.

Judge reinstates proposed

listing of bi-state sage grouse

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A U.S. judge who ruled earlier federal wildlife officials illegally denied Endangered Species Act protection for a population of bi-state sage grouse in California and Nevada in 2015 has reinstated the proposed listing of the bird as threatened until a new review determines if it’s on the brink of extinction.

In the meantime, Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero in San Francisco also ordered reinstatement of the proposed designation of more than 2,800 square miles (7,200 sq. kilometers) of critical habitat along the Sierra’s eastern front.

Conservationists who sued to protect the ground-welling bird says it’s an important victory for numerous species with subgroups isolated from larger populations due to development. Bi-state grouse are related to, but distinct from, the greater sage grouse found in 12 western states.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say they’re pondering their next step.

Talc mill workers, managers to

resume talks amid lockout

BUTTE (AP) — Management and union workers at a talc-milling plant in Three Forks plan to resume contract negotiations amid a worker lockout that’s lasted nearly a month.

The Montana Standard reports that Imerys America officials and union representatives will be joined by a professional mediator when talks resume on Sept. 11.

The company locked the workers out on Aug. 2 after union members voted down what the company called its final offer for a new contract.

The workers have since picketed the plant, which continues to operate with replacement workers. The picket line has drawn politicians from across the state, including Gov. Steve Bullock, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Attorney General Tim Fox.

Bullock said it is the first employee lockout in Montana since the 1980s.

Coroner identified teens killed

in crash near Lewistown

BILLINGS (AP) — A Montana coroner has identified the two 17 year olds that were killed in a crash outside of Lewistown in central Montana.

A statement by the coroner for Fergus and Petroleum counties, R.J. “Dick” Brown, said that Emily Ruth Kaufman of Hamilton and Elizabeth G. Mentzer of Lewiston both died after a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 87 on Monday near Torgerson’s agricultural equipment business.

The Billings Gazette reports Kaufman and Mentzer were riding in a car with two other people when their vehicle was struck by a pickup truck hauling a horse trailer.

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Joe DeJong says the girls were both riding in the passenger side of the car, which is where the collision occurred.

Kaufman was pronounced dead at the scene from her injuries.

Mentzer died during surgery at Central Montana Medical Center.