A Mills police officer shot and killed a man who had been firing a rifle into houses Tuesday night near First and Fenway streets, Casper police Chief Jim Wetzel said.
The gunman fired multiple shots at police, but no officers were hit. One neighbor was injured by broken glass.
Police did not identify the gunman and the Natrona County Coroner’s Office said it would not release his name until his family had been notified. Authorities did say he was 50 years old.
Authorities did not release a motive for the gunman’s behavior. Neighbors, however, said the man had been behaving erratically over the past week.
Casper police began receiving calls at about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday reporting shots fired in the central Casper neighborhood. Several callers reported a man with a rifle was shooting at homes.
Officers from the Casper and Mills police departments, Natrona County Sheriff’s Office and the Wyoming Highway Patrol responded and cordoned off the area. Wetzel said the man continued to fire through the neighborhood, shooting out all the windows in his neighbor’s house. One of the neighbors was cut by the broken glass.
When officers arrived, they encountered the shooter armed with what police described as an “assault-type rifle” on the front porch of a home. The shooter had a laser sight on one of the guns, Wetzel said.
The gunman ignored officers, who told him to disarm, and he retreated back into the house, according to a statement from Wetzel that was released by the department on Wednesday morning. Authorities established a perimeter.
The man reemerged at some point and fired multiple rounds at officers, police said.
“As the subject continued to fire all kinds of rounds, a Mills police officer fired two rounds into the subject and killed the individual,” Wetzel said. “Fortunately, no one got hurt other than the neighbor who was cut by the broken glass.”
Lane Bailey, who lives in an apartment kitty-corner to where the shooting took place, heard gunshots and went outside to investigate. Bailey said he saw what appeared to be a man shooting into a house across the street. The man then walked back into his home.
More officers arrived and eventually shined a spotlight at the gunman’s home. The man later emerged and appeared to be dancing and holding a portable speaker to his ear, Bailey said.
This process repeated itself two more times. Then between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, the gunman emerged again, this time with a rifle, Bailey said. Bailey did not hear the gunman fire at police, but he did hear officers tell the man to drop his weapon.
Bailey said he saw police fire three times at the gunman, who fell after the second shot. After the shooting stopped, police officers checked the home and medics arrived.
Leonard Bordeaux Jr., who lives in the same apartment building as Bailey, said he was home with his 7-year-old grandson at the time of the shooting. After hearing gunshots, he told his grandson to hit the floor.
“I was making sure my grandson was taking cover,” Bordeaux said. “It was kind of spooky. It was a scary night.”
Bordeaux said the gunman had been “out of control” for the past week.
“I’ve seen him ranting and raving,” he said.
He wasn’t sure what the man was saying when he would yell outside his home, but he did hear him say “cuss words.”
“I was thinking, man, he’s losing it,” Bordeaux said.
The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting. Casper police will also conduct an internal investigation to determine whether department policies and procedures were followed, Wetzel said.
Several DCI agents were working the scene Wednesday morning. Yellow crime scene tape blocked off the area where the shooting took place. Yellow evidence markers had been placed in the front yard of the gunman’s home. At about 11 a.m., an official from the coroner’s office removed a body bag from the area and placed it in the back of a white truck.
The police chief commended the officers, troopers and deputies who responded to the incident for their conduct.
“The nature of these incidents, with the following investigations and the inherent scrutiny over actions, can be trying for everyone involved,” he said in his Wednesday morning statement. “I ask for the community to please be patient and keep all involved in your thoughts and prayers during this time.”
Mills Police Chief Bryon Preciado declined to release the name of the officer who shot the gunman. In a statement issued Wednesday morning, the department said the officer involved had been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
“The officer was not injured during the incident and is doing fine at this time,” the department said.
The coroner’s office said an autopsy for the gunman would be scheduled.