Vehicle thefts, pursuits result in 4 court cases
A St. Ignatius man is accused in a series of car thefts and high-speed pursuits.
Shonko Christy-Lacounte, 23, pleaded not guilty at District Court in Polson on March 31 to three counts of felony theft and one count each of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal mischief.
Christy-Lacounte was already facing one count of criminal endangerment from a pursuit on Jan. 30, 2020. According to court records, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Terry Rosenbaum observed a small white car with severe damage to the front end and no functioning taillights traveling on Olsen Road near Charlo. As Trooper Rosenbaum attempted to initiate a traffic stop, the driver of the car accelerated and a pursuit began. The pursuit lasted 29 minutes, covered 31 miles, reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour and forced 8 other motorists to take evasive action to avoid being hit by the suspect’s vehicle. The pursuit ended when the suspect’s vehicle crashed and its alleged driver, later identified as Christy-Lacounte, fled on foot before being caught.
On June 9, 2020, law enforcement went to a residence in the St. Ignatius area to investigate a burglary at the National Bison Range that occurred in April 2020. As they were arriving, a person driving a Black Ford Explorer attempted to flee but got stuck on a cinder block. The driver reversed out and got stuck on a log. The driver “surged” the Explorer back and forth before it got freed from the log. The Explorer then took off at a high rate of speed hitting items around the backyard of the property including a clothesline. A witness told the officers that Christy-LaCounte was driving it. Both the officers pursued the Explorer in their patrol units but were unable to catch up. They eventually located it abandoned near Orr lane. It had been reported stolen in May 2020, and had since been spray painted black.
Then on Aug. 2, 2020, law enforcement responded to a report of a stolen 2016 Audi S4 with the registered owner following the vehicle as he’s reporting it stolen. Law enforcement intercepted the Audi and pursued it, but the Audi was too fast for law enforcement. It was later located with Christy-Lacounte and a woman nearby. The woman confirmed to law enforcement that Christy-Lacounte was driving the Audi.
Most recently, Christy-Lacounte is accused of stealing a 2001 Nissan Xterra from a relative’s Charlo residence either March 2 or 3. When the Xterra was located, it had been painted. Christy-Lacounte allegedly told a relative that he stole the Xterra and painted it. Christy-Lacounte denied both allegations when questioned by law enforcement.
District Judge James Manley set a trial date of Sept. 7 for all of the charges which encompass four separate cases. Christy-Lacounte remains in the Lake County jail with bail set at $50,000.