A Columbia Falls man accused of threatening patrons and staff at a local restaurant with a machete pleaded not guilty last week.
Carlos Seeley, 51, appeared before District Judge David Ortley on Oct. 20 to enter his not guilty pleas to four felony charges, including assault with a weapon, assault on a peace officer, intimidation and attempted aggravated assault.
According to charging documents, emergency dispatchers received a call from the Nite Owl restaurant in Columbia Falls on Sept. 10 requesting an officer because a man was threatening people with a machete.
In an interview with investigators, a waitress working that evening said Seeley appeared to be fine when she served him dinner. Another server cashed him out after his meal.
After the server left the cash register, the waitress said she went to the register and asked Seeley if there was anything else she could help him with.
At that point, she said she noticed a knife sitting on the counter. Seeley allegedly told her that the other server knew what was wrong, and when the waitress asked the server about it, the server said Seeley told her he “has a knife and … is going to take over the place.”
The waitress went back and reengaged Seeley in conversation while another staffer called 911. Seeley allegedly withdrew a machete, holding it in one hand and an open pocketknife in the other.
Seeley allegedly slammed the pocketknife against the register, then turned his attention to another patron sitting at the counter. The waitress intervened and tried to talk to Seeley once more, records state.
The responding Columbia Falls police officer told investigators that he entered the restaurant with his firearm and Taser drawn. The officer said he saw Seeley and told him to drop his weapons.
When Seeley refused, the officer fired his Taser, which apparently had little to no effect on the suspect. The officer then rushed Seeley, records state, and allegedly felt Seeley reaching for something behind his back.
The officer reported that he did not know what Seeley was reaching for and he struck Seeley with his .45 caliber revolver. The fight went to the ground, records state, where the officer’s gun fired. The bullet did not hit anyone.
According to another witness at the restaurant, the officer subdued Seeley and cuffed him. Seeley allegedly maintained control of both weapons until the men fought on the floor.
The waitress reported that before the officer responded to the scene she had asked Seeley if he was “having a bad day,” to which he allegedly replied he was, records state.
If convicted of the charges against him, Seeley could face a maximum of 60 years in prison and up to $200,000 in fines. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Nov. 16 with a trial scheduled for early next year.
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