Suspect Named in Heights Shooting - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Suspect Named in Heights Shooting

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Billings Police release the name of the suspect in Sunday's shooting in the Heights. Chief Rich St. John says the suspect 38-year-old Justin Delacruz is from California and has a criminal past.

"Our investigation revealed that Delacruz had been partying for several days, drinking heavily, smoking PCP-laced cigarettes and he had meth in his possession," said Chief Rich St. John with the Billings Police Department.

Lt. Kevin Iffland says Delacruz’s criminal past extends to 1994, including obstructing or resisting and officer and use of controlled substances. Police say Delacruz's ultimate goal that day was robbery, demanding money from the Sonic employee.

They say Delacruz fired three to four shots at the employee as he was going to Albertson's to get trash bags, and then another three to four shots at the employee as the employee was trying to take cover and get back into the restaurant. Dash cam video reveals Officer Shane Weinreis met Delacruz's car in Sonic parking lot and Delacruz fired a shot at Officer Weinreis, through the windshield of his car. Then the gunfight started and Chief St. John says Weinreis fired a total of 11 shots in a deliberate manner. Delacruz’s gun eventually jammed.

"It was suppression fire,” St. John said. “Every time Mr. Delacruz would peek his head up to do whatever, he would fire one to two slow meticulous rounds, make him duck for cover, and effectively pinned him down to keep him from doing anything else."

St. John says Delacruz was driving a car with local license plates, belonging to someone who Delacruz partied with earlier.

Employees at neighboring businesses say a morning robbery like that is unheard of.

"Like I said, having it be so close like that it's kind of scary to know that he was just walking across the street and he followed him over there because we close late at night and walking across the parking lot doesn't seem like a bit thing, but now it's like what if you're walking across at night,” said Morgan Zabroki, a Sweet Café employee.

She says they didn't open until three that afternoon because the roads were blocked off. Main Street from Lake Elmo Drive to Hansen Lane was closed from Sunday morning to mid-afternoon as a result of the incident.

Police say Weinreis was in the area because he was monitoring traffic in the Tractor Supply parking lot. "It was fortunate that Officer Weinreis was in a position to intervene,” St. John said. “Had he not, this may have turned out differently for the Sonic employees."

Delacruz is charged with attempted deliberate homicide, robbery, criminal endangerment, and criminal possession of dangerous drugs. Officer Weinreis is on paid administrative leave as a part of policy while the investigation is conducted.