GREAT FALLS – The person fatally shot by Montana authorities during their search for the suspect in a casino shooting that left three people dead was a 41-year-old man, a coroner said Wednesday.
Ricky Lee Gardipee was shot by deputy U.S. marshals early Tuesday in the city of Great Falls, about a mile away from the Emerald City Casino where three people were killed and a fourth was injured, Petroleum County Coroner R.J. Brown said in a statement.
The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office identified the victims killed as 53-year-old Cheryl Ann Larsen, 60-year-old Wendy Joanne Carlson and 61-year-old Steve Mitchell Hale, KFBB-TV reported.
Gardipee, of Great Falls, is believed to have been involved in the casino shooting and his body was sent to the Montana Crime Lab for an autopsy, Brown said.
Great Falls Police Lt. Doug Otto told reporters Tuesday that investigators were trying to determine whether anybody else was involved, but he and other officials repeatedly referred to the man shot by the elementary school as “the suspect.”
Police have not released a motive for the shooting that happened about 2 a.m. Tuesday in the casino along one of Great Falls’ main commercial strips. Gardipee was fatally shot about three hours later behind an elementary school.
Police found the three bodies inside the casino when they arrived. A fourth person with a gunshot wound showed up at Benefis hospital for treatment, authorities have said.
Federal, state and local authorities searched for the shooter across the city and found the suspect near the school in a residential neighborhood, officials said.
He was fatally shot after “engaging law enforcement,” Great Falls Police Capt. Jeff Newton said. He did not elaborate.
The injured person, who has not been identified, was in stable condition as of Wednesday morning.
Emerald City Casinos own a chain of restaurants and bars with gambling machines in Great Falls and other Montana locations. A call to the casino where the shooting happened rang unanswered Wednesday morning.
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