BOND DOUBLES FOR ALLEGED SHOOTER
Wounded Hitchhiker Refuses All Interviews; Story Goes Viral
By Samar Fay Courier Editor
Published: Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
The man accused of the random shooting of a hitchhiker west of Glasgow on Saturday is now in the Valley County jail under a $100,000 bond, a $50,000 increase that County Attorney Nicholas Murnion sought citing the violent nature of the offense and the fact that the alleged shooter is from out of state.
Christopher Lloyd Danielson III, 52, of Tumwater, Wash., was arrested near Culbertson four hours after the shooting and charged with misdemeanor DUI. On Monday, he was brought to Glasgow and the additional charge of felony assault with a deadly weapon was lodged.
The victim, Ray Dolin, 39, was wounded in the upper left arm by a small-caliber handgun, according to Valley County Undersheriff Vernon Buerkle.
Judge Linda Hartsock increased Danielson's bond in Justice Court on Tuesday. The case has been remanded to District Court.
The shooting attracted national and international attention over the weekend because of the ironic fact that Dolin, a photographer, was making his way from his home in Madison, W.Va., to Washington state, keeping a journal to write a book on the kindness of America.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” said Buerkle.
Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital was besieged with requests for interviews from major media such as MSNBC, The Morning Show and a London newspaper, as well as Montana media, according to hospital spokesman Nick Dirkes. Articles appeared in the New York Times, the Huffington Post and Yahoo News, among others.
But they didn’t talk to Dolin. He steadfastly refused all requests and the hospital scrupulously preserved his privacy. He left Glasgow on Tuesday morning with his silence intact. According to Buerkle, he didn’t want to taint the case against his assailant and he didn’t want to spoil his book project with this kind of publicity.
The case has raised concern about crime spilling over from the huge population increase in the Bakken oil patch centered in Williston and the Sidney area. Locals immediately remembered the abduction and murder of Sidney teacher Sherry Arnold, allegedly by two Colorado men on their way to find jobs in the Bakken.
Danielson did have a job in Williston, said Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier, but it was in a motel, not the oil patch directly.
“We know more people will bring more crime. That’s just the way it is,” Buerkle said. “We either bury our heads in the sand or be prepared for it. Traffic on Highway 2 has increased over the last two years. Hoping it doesn’t come here isn’t going to solve our problems.”
Federal, state, tribal, Canadian and local law enforcement officials recently held a major conference in Glasgow to coordinate inter-jurisdictional issues with the influx of people into the booming Bakken, and the crime, drugs and violence that have followed.
Danielson’s first and middle names have been switched in various media accounts, but Meier said the first name is Christopher. He has prior convictions for assault, weapons charges and intimidation, Meier said.
The shooting occurred at about 5:45 p.m. at the historical marker on U.S. 2 about three miles west of Glasgow, Buerkle said. Danielson was traveling west and crossed the highway to pull in to the parking area on the south side of the road. Dolin approached the pickup, thinking that the driver was about to offer him a ride. Instead, he was looking at a gun, so he twisted away but was shot in the triceps area of his left arm. The driver took off, headed west.
Dolin soon waved down a Malta woman and her daughter, who called 911 and applied first aid until EMTs arrived. He described the suspect vehicle as a dirty maroon pickup. Montana Highway Patrol and BLM officers joined Valley and Phillips county deputies in the manhunt, setting up roadblocks on U.S. 2 west of the scene. When the suspected pickup didn’t appear, a Valley County deputy resorted to old-fashioned police work and started questioning people at nearby farms and ranches. One rancher reported an unusual visitor in a maroon pickup with Washington plates, a single man who seemed intoxicated, asking directions to Williston. The rancher watched the truck turn and go east.
Law enforcement officials in Roosevelt, Daniels and Richland counties were notified, as well as in North Dakota. At around 7:30 p.m. the pickup was spotted in Poplar. Buerkle said a Roosevelt County deputy was coming out of a convenience store in Culbertson at about 9:30, getting details about the case on his cell phone, when he saw the pickup go by. He pursued the pickup and stopped it at the weigh station without incident, according to a statement from Roosevelt County Sheriff Freedom Crawford.
Buerkle said he believed that Danielson was going to Washington, but after the shooting he changed his mind and headed back to Williston.
By Monday, Valley County officials had possession of Danielson’s pickup and were waiting for a search warrant to enter it and look for the gun and other evidence.
According to a story in Tuesday’s Great Falls Tribune, Dolin had received a big dose of Montana kindness just before he caught the downside of hitchhiking. On Friday, he was picked up in Culbertson by a Wolf Point man who was headed home from his job in the oil fields. The man and his partner gave Dolin dinner, put him up for the night and drove him to Nashua the next morning. They gave him a little statue of an angel and a braid of sweetgrass to help protect him on his trip, as well as a tobacco offering to leave at the Sleeping Buffalo monument.
They were horrified when they heard rumors that a hitchhiker had been killed near Glasgow. When they found out Dolin was in the Glasgow hospital, they texted him, received a text back and came to visit, possibly the only visitors Dolin wanted to see.
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