DEER LODGE — An Oregon man who was shot after endangering Montana drivers and ramming a patrol car is hospitalized in critical condition, Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard said Monday.
Mark William Collins, 61, was shot at least four times in the shoulder and mouth with an AR-15 rifle as he drove his Dodge van toward a sheriff’s deputy Friday morning north of Deer Lodge.
Collins displayed very erratic behavior, including driving the wrong way on the interstate, forcing a vehicle into a ditch, trying to back into a patrol vehicle and trying to ram a pickup truck from behind, Howard said.
Collins is in the intensive care unit at a Missoula hospital under guard. No charges have yet been filed.
The case is still being investigated, and the officer involved remains on paid administrative leave. The officer’s name hasn’t been released.
Powell County officials released little information about the shooting on Friday, including the name and condition of the suspect.
On Monday, Howard said dispatchers received numerous reports of a van traveling the wrong way on Interstate 90, in both directions, starting at about 4:30 a.m. Friday. One person reported being forced into the ditch to avoid being hit by the van.
An officer in an unmarked vehicle spotted the suspect’s van at an interchange north of Deer Lodge. The suspect shut off the lights on the van and tried to ram in the officer’s car, forcing him into a ditch, Howard said.
The van turned around and came toward the officer, who was out of his vehicle with his rifle. But the driver ended up pursuing a resident who had backed his pickup truck out of his driveway on the way to work. The resident was able to get away, Howard said.
The driver of the van then spun around and “came back directly at the officer at a high rate of speed,” Howard said. The officer fired several shots.
Collins has a long criminal history, Howard said.
Oregon court records list the most recent charges against Howard as driving without a license or insurance in May and June. His residence was listed as Corvallis. Court records indicate he has warrants for his arrest for failing to appear in court on several charges, including being a felon in possession of a firearm.