Ole’s Convenience Store Shooter Changes Plea to Guilty for Attempted Deliberate Homicide [AUDIO]
Christopher Lee Burch, 23, one of the two men involved in an armed robbery and near-fatal shooting at the Ole's Country Store in East Missoula on September 7, 2012, changed his pleas to guilty on three felony counts in Missoula District Court on Wednesday, September 18.
Burch was charged with attempted deliberate homicide, theft and robbery, all of which are felonies, and has been in the Missoula County Jail since his arrest the day of the incident.
Burch, dressed in black and wearing a hood over his face, walked into the Ole's Country Store on September 7, 2012 and demanded money from the clerk, Adam Gallegos. When Gallegos refused, Burch shot him in the back with a .22 caliber rifle. Burch ran out the door and into a vehicle driven by his co-defendant Preston James Hanna.
At the time, Jason Johnson was the public information officer for the Missoula County Sheriff's Office. He described the shooting.
"The suspect [Burch] came in the door and yelled to Gallegos to give him all the money, but Gallegos ignored him and went back to work," Johnson said. "The suspect raised his firearm and shot the victim. The bullet traveled through a sunglasses case and struck the victim in the back through the upper shoulder."
Later reports indicate the bullet traveled down into Gallegos' chest, which led to the removal of his right lung.
Hanna was found guilty on June 26, 2013, and was sentenced to 20 years in the Montana State Prison.
The attempted deliberate homicide charge against Burch could carry the death penalty. In district court on Wednesday, Burch and his attorney agreed to an open plea, meaning the sentence will be up to Judge Ed McClean.
Burch will be sentenced on December 19.
Audio from September 7, 2012 by Jason Johnson from the Missoula County Sheriff's Office: