Standoff in Glacier Park Campground Ends Peacefully

Man fired revolver through his tent in Sprague Creek Campground, eliciting law enforcement response

By Molly Priddy
A vehicle drives past the Glacier National Park sign at the west entrance of the park. - Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon

A popular campground in Glacier National Park was temporarily evacuated on Saturday evening after a man fired his gun inside his tent.

According to park spokesperson Margie Steigerwald, the 28-year-old Helena man was in his tent with his girlfriend on July 9 at Sprague Creek Campground on Lake McDonald when he apparently fired a shot through the ceiling of the tent.

Law enforcement was alerted at about 9:30 p.m.

The girlfriend immediately left the tent and sought help from the campground host since there is no cell service, along with neighboring campers who also fled the area. Arriving park rangers evacuated the 22-site campground, herding people toward Going-to-the-Sun Road instead of closer to Lake McDonald bordering the campground.

The man had reported the weapon discharge to the campground host as well, Steigerwald said, but when rangers arrived, he had taken the single-action revolver to the lakeshore. Eight responding rangers surrounded him with weapons drawn, talking and negotiating with the man until he dropped the gun on the shore.

Steigerwald said the rangers reported the man as being “emotionally disturbed or altered from prescription medication.”

Once he was not armed, the rangers handcuffed him and he was transported to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

An investigation into the shooting is still pending, but initial reports seem to indicate the man was lying down in his tent and shot straight up into the air.

The entire situation wrapped up at about midnight, Steigerwald said.

Carrying a firearm in Glacier Park is legal after a change to the law in 2010. However, firing a weapon in Glacier is illegal.

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