Mineral County Community Discusses Counseling Options
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Following the fatal law enforcement involved shooting at the St. Regis Travel Plaza on Saturday, KGVO News reached out to Monte Turner, former Missoula radio and TV broadcaster, still active as a Mineral County journalist, who shared his notes and reactions at a meeting in the St. Regis School Gymnasium on Monday evening.
Turner’s notes from the meeting are below and we thank him for sharing the information with KGVO News.
Turner Attended the Meeting and Shares his Notes with KGVO News
By: Monte Turner
‘Around 100 people gathered in the St. Regis School Gymnasium on Monday evening as a community assembly was called for those who may need to have counseling or just talk about the shooting incident from Saturday.
Amy Lommen, Disaster and Emergency Services for Mineral County was the primary organizer of the event and made it clear when she introduced herself, that the evening was for healing. It was for those in the audience to visit with licensed therapists in a group or one-on-one to work through possible issues they are having from Saturday.
“One thing I will recommend is reading the flyer our mental health providers made with a lot of different local resources that they can reach out to,” in reference to those who were not in attendance. “The Sheriff’s Office is actually going to post this on their social media pages,” she said.
A St. Regis Resident Shared his Reaction to Law Enforcement Response
One of the attendees who was at the scene on Saturday was Tom Heacock who is a long time St. Regis resident. “It lit-up pretty fast. I saw several different (law enforcement) agencies coming down Hwy 135 in full response. I don’t think it was an over response. I’ve heard people talking about having an awful lot of law enforcement. How do you call over response? Site mangers were right there making room for helicopters. That’s pretty cool.”
Heacock had nothing but admiration for those who were there doing what they could to secure the area and make it safe.
“I thought it was wonderful,” said Patti Curtin, who is a Crime Victim Advocate for the County Attorney's Office of Mineral County. “I loved the law enforcement all being here. I think the information was presented correctly and I think the community absorbed it.” Curtin’s job is to find victims compensation funding for those who cannot afford counseling.
Counseling was Made Available for Residents Affected by the Incident
Mineral County Sheriff Ryan Funke took the podium to thank and recognize some of the law enforcement agencies that rapidly responded which made a huge impact on everyone at the incident scene with the show of force that arrived. He became passionate when he introduced Sgt. Shawn Smalley with the Montana Highway Patrol as the 2 of them have been friends who have taken care of each other over the years in tense situations. Sanders County Sheriff Shawn Fielders was also introduced as both Funke and Fielders became County Sheriffs on January 1 of this year and Funke said that they are both learning together. Sheriff Funke was pleased with the turnout and the kind words that were shared for the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office concerning the very stressful incident.
“Ultimately, we wanted to show the community that we are here for the community, just as the community has shown that they are here for us.”
“I am so proud of our community. Proud of our local law enforcement and the cooperation they had from other agencies,” said Lawana McGuffey, a Licensed Addiction Counselor and Mental Health Therapist in Superior. She along with Carissa Kuhl, M.Ed, LCPC welcomed those who wanted to talk in private in rooms that St. Regis School Superintendent Derek Larson made available for the evening.’
As KGVO reported on Saturday, one suspect was killed and one individual was wounded at the incident at the St. Regis Travel Center.
The investigation is being conducted by the Montana Department of Criminal Investigations.