Kalispell Woman Charged With Criminal Endangerment, Theft

Awndray Lynn Francisco was arrested after a police chase that ended in gunfire in Bigfork

By Justin Franz

A 44-year-old Kalispell woman pleaded not guilty April 2 to charges related to a high-speed police chase that ended in gunfire last month.

Awndray Lynn Francisco was arrested in Bigfork on March 24 and faces charges of felony theft and criminal endangerment in Flathead County District Court. 

According to court records, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a stolen vehicle near Glacier Park International Airport on the morning of March 24. A man staying at a nearby hotel said that he had started his car to warm it up and went back inside the building. When he returned, the car was gone. About 15 minutes later, a Kalispell Police Department officer spotted the vehicle at Conrad Drive and Willow Glen Drive. The officer tried to stop the vehicle but was unsuccessful and a chase ensued. Other agencies, including the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Highway Patrol, joined the pursuit as the driver, who authorities say they later identified as Francisco, headed south. The chase reached speeds of 95 miles per hour. 

Near Bigfork, sheriff’s deputies were able to deploy a spike strip and deflated some of the vehicle’s tires. Francsico allegedly turned onto Grand Drive where she then collided with a patrol car. Officers surrounded the vehicle but Francsico did not immediately exit, court records allege.

According to an initial investigation, Francisco allegedly brandished a gun and pointed it at an officer. One of the officers fired their weapon but did not hit the woman. Another officer then deployed a taser and took Francisco into custody. 

If convicted, Francisco could face up to 20 years in prison. She is expected to stand trial in June. 

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