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Courts

Bigfork Man Pleads Not Guilty to Homicide Charges in Ferndale Shooting

Matthew Thomas Vitek, 49, entered the pleas before Judge Molly Owen in Lake County District Court

By Maggie Dresser
Lake County Courthouse in Polson on Feb. 22, 2017. Beacon file photo.

A 49-year-old Bigfork man accused of shooting three people in early December at a Ferndale residence, killing a woman and injuring two others, pleaded not guilty earlier this month to a felony count of deliberate homicide and two additional felony counts of attempted deliberate homicide in Lake County District Court.

Matthew Thomas Vitek entered the pleas before Judge Molly Owen at a Jan. 3 arraignment hearing.

Vitek is being held in the Lake County Jail on a $3 million bond.

According to an affidavit filed by Deputy Lake County Attorney Lori Adams, Lake County dispatchers received multiple calls after 9 p.m. on Dec. 10 regarding a shooting on Cayuse Lane in Ferndale that involved three victims.

Flathead County Sheriff’s Office deputies assisted in the response and arrived first at the residence, which was also a pet grooming business and an automotive shop. Upon arrival, they found a woman on the ground with a fatal gunshot wound to her head and a male with a gunshot wound to the chest. Law enforcement later identified the female victim as 56-year-old Tammi Jordan and the male victim as Jeffrey Kislewski, the fire chief of the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department.

While Flathead and Lake county deputies were on the scene, they heard a gunshot from within the automotive shop and, after announcing their presence and entering the area, heard another gunshot, according to charging documents.

Once law enforcement located the shooter, who was later identified as Vitek, the defendant tossed the gun on the ground, records state. He was placed in custody.

As authorities continued clearing the scene, they located another woman, who was later identified as Heather Kislewski, with a gunshot wound to the chest. Emergency responders rendered aid to all three victims and they were transported to Logan Health in Kalispell.

Jordan was pronounced dead at the hospital. A pathologist at the Montana State Crime Lab declared her death a homicide, records state.

According to documents, video surveillance footage captured the entire event, including expletive-laced exchanges between Vitek and the victims. The footage shows Jordan exiting her residence while yelling to Heather Kislewski, “Please help, call the police, call the police, call the police, please call. He’s [expletive] crazy.”

The footage also captures the defendant stating, “you are all going to die … Alright here we go. We’re going to have some fun,” at which point he shot both Jeffrey and Heather Kislewski in the chest. He then moved toward Jordan and shot her in the head.

The defendant then yelled, “you wanna play games? [Expletive] you” and “Get up, get up [expletive]” before allegedly stomping on both Heather’s and Jordan’s heads, records state.

Vitek is scheduled to stand trial on June 3, 2024 at 9 a.m.

GoFundMe accounts have been established for the deceased and surviving victims, which describe the incident as a domestic violence case.

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, the Abbie Shelter operates a 24-hour crisis helpline at (406) 752-7273. Additional information can be found at www.abbieshelter.org.

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