Missoula Story of the Week: Local Threats After Newtown Shooting


While the horrendous events in Newtown, Connecticut resonate throughout the country, law enforcement officials in Montana have been dealing with similar threats in and around our area. Local crime news agencies have been reporting about the incident in the past few days.

Several instances, including a threat to a Gillette, Wyoming school allegedly made by a Lolo resident, a bomb threat to a Kalispell Mall, and some vague threats made toward Missoula County Public Schools, have put everyone including police officers on edge. Watch your local news program to keep updated on important matters.

Missoula police told KPAX.com the threat to Missoula County Public Schools, which was posted on Facebook, has been dealt with. Unfortunately, the incident was cause for fear, not to mention lost time and resources.

Kalispell police have been dealing with another threat made on the popular social media website during Christmas Eve, this time in the form of a possible bomb going off in a Kalispell mall. KPAX.com reported that someone warned of a pipe bomb was placed in a bathroom of the Kalispell Center Mall.

Area police searched the mall and found nothing. When law enforcement officials contacted the person who posted the warning, he said that it was a joke. Charges have not been filed in this instance, but police are still investigating the incident and may choose to prosecute the person if it is warranted.

Law enforcement officials are taking a threat made by a Lolo resident more seriously and have decided to press charges in the case. On December 20, a Lolo man, again using Facebook, posted a threat to shoot up a school in Gillette, Wyoming where his cousin attends school. The suspect told authorities it was a joke, but officials are charging the man with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, according to a KPAX.com article.

Sheriff’s Office PIO Detective Jason Johnson stated that law enforcement “felt it was important to arrest this individual for disorderly conduct to send a message, not just to our community, but to students who will be going back to school soon-to anybody that would be making jokes, or making legitimate threats about a school shooting that our office is going to respond quickly.”

It is hard to imagine that anyone would make a comment suggesting random violence in our community given the horrendous events in Newtown. As our nation and the community struggle to come to terms with the terrible events that took place just before Christmas, threats of a copy-cat crime seem unimaginable.

However, for whatever reason, people have used the event as an excuse to make such threats. Showing that these incidents will be taken seriously and result in legal actions will hopefully bring an end to them and allow Newtown and the country the much-needed time to heal.


Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.


Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.