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Sheriff releases name of woman, officers, involved in standoff shooting

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | May 27, 2021 2:55 PM

Authorities on Thursday released the names of the suspect and officers involved in an exchange of gunfire during an armed standoff near Columbia Falls on Wednesday.

According to Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino, 38-year-old Amanda Zahn, of Columbia Falls, suffered gunshot wounds to the chest during the confrontation with Sheriff’s Office deputies Sgt. Travis Smith and Cpl. Jeff Perry.

Zahn was taken to the hospital for treatment of her wounds. The extent of her injuries remain unknown, but Heino said she was in the intensive care unit at Logan Health on Wednesday night.

Smith and Perry each fired their weapons during the confrontation and have been placed on paid administrative leave. Heino said both officers are veterans of the force, with Smith having 10 years of service and Perry at least five.

Smith was involved in a shooting in the Rogers Lake area of Kila in May 2020 that took the life of Anthony D. Grove. Officers in that incident were cleared of wrongdoing during a coroner’s inquest earlier this month.

The Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the officer-involved shooting investigation.

Heino said both officers would be evaluated to determine if they needed any mental health services, followed by an administrative review.

“In officer-involved shootings, we have to make sure they can handle the responsibilities and duties required of law enforcement officers,” Heino said.

ACCORDING TO Heino, at about 9:11 a.m. on Wednesday, deputies responded to a location in the 200 block of Dawn Drive, just east of Halfmoon Road, for a report of shots being fired.

When deputies arrived, Zahn allegedly came out of a camper with a pistol and the officers backed up to cover. Heino said he did not yet know what type of weapon Zahn used.

“We’ve had calls from that location before for disturbances,” Heino added.

After a perimeter was set up and patrol officers tried to speak with Hahn for several hours. Flathead County Special Weapons and Tactics and Kalispell Police Special Response Team along with negotiators from both agencies responded to the scene.

According to Heino, after the arrival of the special response teams, Zahn allegedly came out of the camper, pointed a gun at law officers and gun shots were exchanged.

Zahn went back inside the camper and continued to communicate with law officers. Negotiations continued before tear gas canisters were fired into the camper between 2 and 2:10 p.m. in an attempt to get Zahn to come out of the camper, but she remained inside.

Missoula County’s SWAT team arrived later in the day with an advanced camera system that allowed officers to safely go in the camper and secure Zahn, ending the standoff at about 5 p.m.

Columbia Falls Police officers also responded to the scene.

Neighbors evacuated their homes and remained outside through the afternoon, while other residents trying to get to their homes weren't allowed into the neighborhood.