Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


LIVINGSTON — A man who shot at police and barricaded himself in his trailer home was shot and arrested shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, putting an end to the more than 30-hour standoff on the city’s east side.

Michael Marfuta, 49, was shot and taken to the Livingston hospital to be treated for his injuries, Park County Sheriff’ Brad Bichler said. Marfuta’s injuries were non-life threatening.

No law enforcement officers were injured in the incident.

Bichler said at about 10 p.m. officers repositioned some equipment to get a better view of the trailer Marfuta was in.

Marfuta then started shooting at deputies, Bichler said. Deputies returned fire and hit Marfuta. Bichler said it’s unclear where he was shot.

Bichler said officers didn’t have a choice but to fire back at Marfuta. He said officers were fortunate to not get hit, and that he would have liked to resolve the issue “as peacefully as possible.”

“Hence the fact that we stood here over 30 hours just trying to bring this to as peaceful of an accord as we possibly could,” Bichler said. “Unfortunately, some decisions were made on our suspect's part to force us to engage, which we didn’t really want to have to do.”

Bichler said Marfuta got in touch with police after he was shot. He came out of the trailer and surrendered to police. 

The lengthy standoff began when Park County Sheriff’s Office deputies tried to serve Marfuta with a court-ordered eviction Tuesday afternoon at a trailer home in View Vista Community, according to a sheriff’s news release. The trailer court is near Park High School.

Marfuta wasn’t there when deputies tried to serve the notice, but he later confronted deputies at his home with a knife.

Deputies and Livingston police officers secured the area and tried to negotiate a peaceful resolution with Marfuta, according to the release. The Gallatin County Special Response team was called in to deal with the incident.

On Wednesday, Park County Sheriff Brad Bichler said Marfuta fired a gun in the direction of officers on two separate instances on Tuesday. No one was injured.

Bichler said during the day Wednesday that law enforcement was doing everything it could to resolve the situation peacefully and that he didn’t want to have to take drastic measures.

Officers from across the state came to help out with the incident. Billings’ and Livingston’s police departments, and Roosevelt, Gallatin, Sweet Grass, and Lewis and Clark county sheriff’s offices have helped so far. Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and The U.S. Forest Service have also sent officers to patrol the area.

In a civil complaint filed against Marfuta in Park County District Court in September, plaintiffs View Vista Community, Inc., a nonprofit, said Marfuta refused to sign a lease agreement when the organization took over the park a year ago. The nonprofit said in the complaint that Marfuta had not paid rent since April and had been served with several notices.

Marfuta sent the nonprofit’s attorney Jon Hesse two emails, dated June 23 and July 24, that were included in the complaint against him. Marfuta told the organization that an incident like this was inevitable.

In the email, Marfuta said the previous owner told him he’d be able to keep his position as a maintenance man, a position he said he’s held over the past decade. He also expressed frustration about being ignored by the new property management company there.

“As far as I’m concerned, my very survival has been yanked out from under me,” Marfuta wrote in the email.

In November, Park County judge Brenda Gilbert granted the nonprofit’s request for a issuance of writ of possession and writ of assistance, effectively evicting Marfuta from the home.

At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, more than 40 people inside the trailer park remained on lockdown, said Hannah Cain, the property manager for the trailer park. She said law enforcement had told her they really weren’t sure when the situation would be resolved.

She said the American Red Cross helped with rooms for some of the displaced residents at the Travel Lodge and set up a warming center at the Park County Fairgrounds. Cain said the Fairfield Inn has offered discounted rooms for other displaced residents.

As evening approached, law enforcement officers went in and out of the Park High School, where they had set up incident command. Several unmarked police cars patrolled the area.

Bichler said the Department of Criminal Investigations was at the scene. He said investigators have a “relatively large crime scene” to comb through before residents can start coming back to their homes.

“As soon as we could get that processed and get folks back into residences and get back to their normal lives, we’ll be doing that,” Bichler said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Marfuta's last name. 

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.