BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a story offered by a hitchhiker who claimed to be the victim of a drive-by shooting in Montana unraveled when no gun could be found in the pickup of the supposed perpetrator.

Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier said Monday that deputies found a pistol in a field near the scene and traced it to Ray Dolin.

The 39-year-old Dolin had claimed he was shot in the arm without provocation along U.S. Highway 2. Authorities now say he shot himself and made up the rest of the story — apparently to promote a memoir he's writing about kindness.

Dolin is being treated at a hospital. Charges are pending.

Authorities initially charged a man from Tumwater, Wash., in the June 9 shooting. He was cleared four days later.