Men face lengthy prison terms in drive-by shooting in Kalispell

| September 9, 2020 12:30 AM

Two Flathead Valley men were sentenced to 15 years in the Montana State Prison Thursday afternoon in Flathead County District Court for their roles in a drive-by shooting last year.

Ansen Walter Ingraham of Columbia Falls and Joseph Trapper Bukowski, both 19 years old, appeared in front of District Judge Dan Wilson, who delivered sentences totaling 25 years, including 10 suspended.

On the charge of assault with a weapon, each man received 15 years. On the charge of criminal endangerment, each received 10 years suspended. The sentences will be served consecutively, meaning when either man is paroled, they will still be on probation for several years.

Earlier this summer, both men pleaded guilty to one count of assault with a weapon and one count of criminal endangerment. Three other felony charges were dismissed against each person.

County Deputy Attorney Alison Howard spoke of the offenses and her conversations with victims in the shootings.

“They chose a life of drugs and weapons,” Howard said. “Thank goodness we’re not here for a homicide sentencing.

She said her conversations with victims were chilling when she learned how close some had come to being hit by bullets.

“One victim said her brother was standing up when a bullet entered the home and it struck him and knocked him down. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt, but he believes if the force of the bullet hadn’t knocked him down, he may have been harmed by other bullets which followed the first shot.

“Judge, if we’re not safe in our own homes and our beds, then where?” Howard said. “The punishment is deserved and sends a message that this behavior isn’t going to be tolerated in Flathead County.”

Another victim, Lauren O’Connell, also spoke of how her and her family’s lives have been affected since bullets passed through their residence, barely missing some young children.

“It’s been a big shift in our ordinary lives,” O’Connell said. “We’re more nervous. When a lot of traffic goes past the house, we perk up. The noise from July 4 was disturbing.”

O’Connell said one of the bullets passed within 3 feet of where her 3-yearold son slept and others passed through two other children’s bedrooms.”

Bukowski’s attorney, Tim Wenz, asked for a shorter term so his client can pay restitution sooner.

“He has a lot of life ahead of him and he knows they made a very bad mistake,” Wenz said. “We ask for a shorter term because of the restitution.”

Bukowski spoke briefly, apologizing “for the

trauma I’ve caused the families.” Ingraham didn’t make a statement and his attorney, Caleb Simpson, said he’s shown nothing but remorse. Judge Wilson told Ingraham he would have to make a more serious effort at reform. Howard said Ingraham had nine rules violations while lodged in the Flathead County Detention Center.

Both men remain in the county jail on $250,000 bail each.

Ingraham and Bukowski each initially pleaded not guilty Jan. 9 to several felony offenses.

Ingraham was arrested Dec. 23, 2019, at a home on West Cottonwood Drive in Evergreen and Bukowski was booked into jail Dec. 27 for their alleged roles in the Dec. 21 shooting.

During a June 4 hearing, Bukowski took the stand and admitted to driving the SUV involved in the crime. He also said he had a handgun, but didn’t fire it.

He said Ingraham and two others in the vehicle also had guns and fired them during the incident.

A third man, 19-yearold Dray Scott Wieting of Kalispell, who was allegedly involved in the shooting.

He is charged with two felony counts of assault with a weapon and three counts of felony criminal endangerment. Wieting is scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing Oct. 28.

One of the other people involved in the shooting is a juvenile and was charged, according to Flathead County Deputy Attorney Alison Howard.

“We knew where we were going,” Bukowski said when asked by Flathead County Deputy Attorney Allison Howard if he knew what was happening when the foursome were inside the SUV.

During the investigation, police learned Ingraham allegedly had threatened a person who lives in the targeted duplex on Seventh Avenue over an ongoing dispute, telling that person he would “get what was coming to him.”

According to court documents, Kalispell Police received a report of “shots fired” at 12:08 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, near a duplex on Seventh Avenue West in Kalispell. It was later reported that two other residences on Sunnyside Drive and Ashley Creek Lane were shot several times.

Numerous bullet holes were found in the residences, as well as bullets, and more than 20 casings were found in the street. Based on the evidence, police believe both a 9 mm and a .45-caliber weapon were used in the crime.