Gunman Kills Three in Montana Reservation Shooting

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Law enforcement officers remove a shooting victim's body from a home about nine miles south west of Lodge Grass Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011 near Montana's Crow Reservation. A shooting left three people dead at a rural residence on Montana's Crow Reservation and a manhunt was under way Tuesday for an armed suspect, prompting a lockdown of schools, a hospital and other public buildings, authorities said. Authorities were searching for 22-year-old Sheldon Bernard Chase, who has a history of mental illness and is considered armed and extremely dangerous, said Eric Barnhart, FBI supervisor in Billings. (AP Photo/The Billings Gazette, James Woodcock)

Updated at 2:40 p.m. PDT

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Schools were closed and residents were told to remain indoors Wednesday as authorities fanned across the southeast Montana countryside looking for an armed man suspected in a triple shooting on the Crow Reservation.

Authorities were seeking Sheldon Bernard Chase, 22, in the deaths of his grandmother and a young couple at a rural residence about 10 miles outside of Lodge Grass, a town of about 500 people near the Wyoming border.

The FBI identified the dead, believed to have been shot Tuesday afternoon, as Gloria Sarah Goes Ahead Cummins, 80; Chase's cousin, 21-year-old Levon Driftwood; and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Rueben Jefferson.

It was unclear what led to the shootings or how Chase was identified as a suspect. He had apparently been living with his grandmother.

Chase has a history of mental illness and is considered armed and extremely dangerous, said Eric Barnhart, FBI supervisor in Billings.

Police, game wardens and tribal authorities were combing county roads looking for the suspect, Big Horn County Commissioner John Pretty On Top said.

Schools were closed on Wednesday, and some Lodge Grass residents said they were frightened to leave their homes as long as the suspect remains at large. "We'll run to the store and do what we have to do, but otherwise, we're going to stay home," Taiann Crooked Arm said on her way to buy groceries.

Schools were closed in the Mandaree area on North Dakota's Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, where Chase has family. "It's precautionary," Three Affiliated Tribes spokeswoman Glenda Embry said. "There is a lot of police activity in the area. Tribal police are on alert."

Chase is described as 6 feet, 2 inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes and weighing 230 pounds. The FBI said he is believed to be driving a white Toyota Corolla with North Dakota plates.

Anyone who sees Chase was asked not to approach him but instead call law enforcement. Meanwhile, authorities throughout the state, as well as in Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota have been notified of the manhunt.

Crow tribal secretary Scott Russell warned against speculation on what sparked the shooting until all the facts are known. He said he could not recall a tragedy of such magnitude among the close-knit tribe.

"This is pretty devastating to the community and the Crow Nation," he said. "We are all in shock."

Public buildings across the reservation were locked down when the search for Chase was first launched. Pretty On Top said security guards were patrolling outside Lodge Grass High School as a precaution Wednesday.

Pretty On Top said he was distantly related to the victims and the suspect — as are many in the small reservation community.

"Between the clan system, we're all related some way. It was a terrible thing to happen," he said.

___

Associated Press writer James MacPherson contributed to this report from Bismarck, N.D.



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