Flathead County Man Pleads Not Guilty to Shooting Son

By Beacon Staff

A Flathead County man pleaded not guilty Thursday in district court to two felony assault charges after he allegedly shot his son in the face with a shotgun.

Through a lawyer, James Gonzales entered his plea at an Aug. 2 arraignment before Flathead County District Court Judge Stewart Stadler. Gonzalez faces charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, both felonies.

The aggravated assault charge carries a possible sentence of more than 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, according to prosecuting documents. The assault with a weapon charge is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.

Stadler set an omnibus hearing for Oct. 31 at 1:30 p.m. and a pre-trial conference on Nov. 14 at 9:30 a.m. Gonzales is being held in the Flathead County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond.

Prosecutors say that on July 12 three deputies from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a call of shots fired at 141 Deerfoot Trail. When they arrived, according to court documents, Cote Gonzales said his father had shot him in the face with a shotgun.

Cote Gonzales told deputies he was in his driveway when his father invited him to approach him. As he approached, court documents state, his father reached for a shotgun, pointed it at him and shot him in the face.

The alleged victim and the defendant were 20-30 yards apart at the time of shooting, according to a July 19 affidavit by Flathead County Deputy Attorney Lori Adams. A deputy said he saw a mark on the victim’s face.

Deputies spoke with a passerby who said she and her friend were walking past the residence when they heard gunshots and then heard a male voice say, “You shot me in the face.” Court documents say the male with the shotgun yelled, “I’ll do it again.” He then allegedly cocked the gun, got into his car and drove away.

At that point, according to the affidavit, Cote Gonzales’ sister pulled up to the house and said, “My dad is going to shoot Cote and kill him.”

Another man stated that on his way home he drove past the residence where the alleged crime occurred and heard two gunshots. He said he then saw Cote Gonzales in the road waving his arms at him to stop.

Cote Gonzales approached him, court documents say, and said he had been shot by his father. The man handed him a phone to call 911.

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