Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - At approximately 12:01 p.m. on March 27, 2023, a Missoula Police Department Officer was dispatched to a store in Southgate Mall for a suspected shoplifting incident. Dispatch advised a Native American male was inside the store, wearing a black hat and a face mask. Loss prevention employees watched the male conceal an airsoft gun in his black backpack. The male was in the men’s shoe section.  

The officer arrived on the scene and saw the male trying on a pair of sneakers. The officer approached the male and told him to walk with her to the loss prevention office. The male asked what was going on and the officer advised him there was something in his backpack that belongs to the store. As they were walking, the officer met with the loss prevention lead employee. 

They all arrived at the office and the male sat down. The officer asked the male if he had an identification card or driver’s license and he said he has never had one. However, the male provided the name Jerome Eaglelite and provided a date of birth. Jerome said he was from Washington. The officer called dispatch and asked them to run Jerome for any warrants. They advised the officer that Jerome had a felony warrant for theft out of Spokane. The officer was later able to confirm his identity by the criminal record check, which included a driver’s license photograph of him. 

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The officer told Jerome that employees watched him conceal an airsoft gun in his backpack. Jerome stated he didn't have a basket, so he put the airsoft gun in his backpack. The officer reminded Jerome that when she approached him in the shoe section, he had a basket full of items. Jerome said he found a basket after he found the airsoft gun, and he was planning on paying for the item. The officer asked Jerome if he had money to pay for the item and he said his mother, who was waiting outside in a vehicle, would most likely pay for it. 

The officer also told Jerome about his felony warrant. The officer asked Jerome for consent to open his backpack to retrieve the gun inside. He gave the officer permission and advised it was in the “big pocket.” The officer opened the backpack and placed the Sig Sauer P365 air gun on the desk, so employees could place it back on the shelf to be sold. This gun was priced at $99.99 and was determined by staff to be in sellable condition. 

The officer transported Jerome to the Missoula County Detention Center. Before the officer left the detention center, an employee of the jail looked into a small black drawstring bag that was in Jerome’s right pant pocket and found what appeared to be fentanyl pills inside an "Orbit" gum container. 

The officer took possession of the pills, which she observed had an "M" on one side, and a "30" with a line below it on the opposite side. The officer was aware from training and experience that these pills are called “blues” on the street, and they contain fentanyl. The officer opened the plastic container and found two small “snack” bags which contained 126 fentanyl pills in total. There was also another clear smaller baggie, which appeared to have methamphetamine inside. The officer tested the white crystal substance, which tested positive for meth. 

Jerome Eaglelite is currently being charged with felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia. On March 28, 2023, he made his initial appearance in Missoula Justice Court and his bond was set at $200,000. 

The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.

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