Great Falls, Montana police have confirmed that three people were found dead at the Emerald City Casino in the early morning hours of December 17, 2019.
In a news release, police reported that detectives with the Great Falls Police Department, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Marshals Office, and detectives with the Cascade County Sheriff/Coroner’s Office “are investigating a multiple victim homicide.”
According to KRTV, the victims have now been named as Cheryl Ann Larson, 53 years old; Wendy Joanne Carlson, 60; and Steve Mitchell Hale, 61. The suspect was Ricky Lee Gardipee.
The chaotic sequence of events culminated in a shooting that left the suspect dead. The suspect – whose name and motive are not yet being released – died several hours after the casino deaths were discovered. “We ask that you keep the families of the victims and our first responders in your thoughts and prayers during this incident,” police said. NBC Montana described the mass casualty incident as a “casino shooting,” but the police press release doesn’t specify exactly how the people in the casino were killed.
Here’s what you need to know:
Police Found Three People Dead Inside the Casino & a Fourth Person Injured
Great Falls police found a bloodbath inside the casino. Police gave this account:
On Tuesday, December 17, 2019, just after 2 a.m., emergency dispatchers received a 911 call requesting emergency medical assistance to Emerald City Casino, 1701 10th Ave. S.
Officers and paramedics responded “to find three victims deceased inside the casino. A fourth victim was located a short time later at Benefis Hospital and is recovering from his injuries,” police say.
Police then began searching for the suspect “throughout the night.” At about 5:45 a.m., they encountered the suspect in the area of 26th Street and 7th Av. S.
“Gunshots were fired and the suspect was fatally wounded,” police wrote in a news release, stopping short of saying whether police fired those gunshots. However, KRTV later reported that the suspect, who had a lengthy criminal history, was killed by Deputy U.S. Marshals.
Police said there is “no longer a danger to the public.” They described the investigation as “complex.”
“Community members may see a police presence at 1701 10th Ave S. and the area of 26th St. and 7th Ave. S for the next several days,” they explained. “Investigators with GFPD, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, and the Montana Department of Criminal Investigation will be working together on these investigations. Please aid investigators by staying away from the scenes.”
Anyone with information on the shootings should call GFPD Detective Keith Hedges at 406-455-8519 or logon to P3TIPS.com. Police say tipsters can stay anonymous. They have not released the suspect’s motive, name, or further details.
Police added on the morning of December 17: “Currently, 26th St South is closed from 7th Ave South to 9th Ave South. This area will remain closed until investigators have processed the area involved in this incident. Lincoln Elementary will be closed today due to the proximity of the incident to the school. The incident did not involve students or school staff. Please avoid this area during your travels today.”
The casino’s Facebook page says of Emerald Casino, “Emerald City Casinos are gaming establishments with the most current games, top pay outs and friendly staff in a clean, luxurious environment.”
This article is being updated as more information is learned about the Great Falls casino shooting.
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