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Deadly incident starts in Laurel, ends with arrest and suicide

By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, April 29, 2021
The suspect vehicle in a deadly carjacking crashed through this fence at the end of West Maryland on Friday afternoon during a pursuit that began in Laurel. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

The suspect vehicle in a deadly carjacking crashed through this fence at the end of West Maryland on Friday afternoon during a pursuit that began in Laurel. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

A deadly carjacking in Billings early Friday morning led to a pursuit which started in Laurel and ended in Billings after a female suspect was apprehended and a male died of a self– inflicted gunshot wound after a nine–hour standoff.

At 12:25 p.m. on April 23, Laurel dispatch received a suspicious vehicle complaint from Wood’s Powr–Grip. An officer arrived and discovered a white van covered in a tarp. They knocked on a door and a male eventually came out of the van. The officer asked what was going on and the male said he was just passing through and was from Arizona but had been living in Montana for a couple years while seeing some caves.

The male was acting nervous and started walking around the vehicle. When asked for his drivers license he said it was in the van. When he climbed inside the officer noticed another passenger in the vehicle. A female asked the officer for gas money and while he was trying to secure a license the male put the van in drive and took off.

Dispatch was notified of the pursuit which started eastbound on West Main St. The van took a left on 5th Ave. heading north before turning left on West Maryland and continuing until the dead end when the van crashed through a fence and momentarily lost the officer.

By this time three other Laurel police officers had joined the pursuit and the van was located on Golf Course Road heading south where it got on I–90 heading towards Billings.

Yellowstone County deputies and Montana Highway Patrol troopers joined as speeds reached in excess of 100 mph.

The pursuit continue on Shiloh before the van crashed and the occupants fled. Kristy Lynn Chavez, 31, was subdued with a police taser and taken into custody while Michael Lee McClure, 26, barricaded himself in a house. After a nine–hour standoff law enforcement breached the Ridgewood Lane home and shot McClure before he killed himself with a self–inflicted gunshot wound.

The body of Dennis Gresham, 33, of Sheridan Wyoming was discovered in the van. He had been murdered by McClure at the Yellowstone River Campground that morning during a carjacking incident.

Chavez is currently being held at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility on $500,000 bond for deliberate homicide by accountability.

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