High-speed chase ends with shooting, death of murder suspect
WOODS BAY — Lake County Sheriff Don Bell reported that U.S. Highway 35 was closed on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 9, to through traffic on both sides of mile marker 26.
The highway was closed to allow state officials time to investigate the scene where a shooting occurred. The incident began in Flathead County as law enforcement pursued a suspect believed to be involved in another shooting in Kalispell.
Bell said deputies from the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the scene of the first shooting at 135 Cobbler Village, in Kalispell, where an assault victim suffered from a gunshot wound.
Medical responders determined that the victim was deceased. She was later identified at Maxine L. Heil, 62, of Kalispell. Detectives and a crime scene team began a homicide investigation.
Flathead deputies received information about a male suspect and the vehicle he was driving. Bell said the information was broadcast to law enforcement in surrounding counties.
On U.S. Highway 82, at around 2 p.m., a Flathead County deputy saw the suspect’s vehicle and attempted to stop it, according to Bell. The driver didn’t stop and a pursuit began. Montana Highway Patrol joined the pursuit on U.S. Highway 35.
The high-speed chase continued into Lake County.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies put out a spike strip and the suspect’s vehicle was stopped at mile marker 26.5. The suspect then fired a gun at a Flathead deputy and highway patrol trooper. The officers were not injured and returned fire.
The suspect, later identified as Richard L. Mason, 59, of Kalispell, died at the scene.
“Deputy Matthew Vander Ark was the involved deputy and has been employed by the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office for over seven years,” Bell said. “He has been placed on paid administrative leave.”
“The Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the officer-involved shooting investigation.”