Was The SWAT “False Alarm” A Training No One Knew About?

by Travis Mateer

On August 31st I spent some time with my partner-in-investigating-crime scoping out the periphery of an incident involving the deployment of SWAT. Here is how one local news source reported what happened:


Information that led to SWAT response on W. Broadway St. in Missoula Wednesday night has been confirmed to be unfounded.

SWAT cleared the scene around 11:00 pm Wednesday.

The Missoula Police Department says additional information will continue to be investigated.

No additional information has been released at this time.

While conventional media waits around for additional information to be released, I stopped by the Red Lion and was told that, yes, the massive police response to the “unfounded” person barricaded in room 212 was, in fact, a training.

I was further told that, although a brief heads up had been given earlier in the day, the sudden response by law enforcement, including flash-bang grenades, was a bit of a shocker to staff and guests alike, including one person who allegedly had a PTSD response.

If the Missoulian wants to do more than throw chokecherry shade on the information blackout they’re getting from local authorities, then send a reporter out to ask some questions. I didn’t go to J-School, but I think that’s how it’s done.

Maybe they’ll get some pushback from upstairs, or regional, or wherever the publisher of the Missoulian now resides. If that happens then editor, Rob Chaney, should tell them a local, unpaid blogger is actually questioning authorities, like Sheriff Mike Toth, and the Missoulian had to change a headline last month as a result.

Getting back to the SWAT incident that may or may not have been a training exercise, some other details worth noting from my source include the assertion that, despite having a set of master keys, the door to room 212 was damaged. I asked who would pay for the damage, and the staff said that was a good question, because no one has offered to pay.

To confirm this detail, I went back later and took this picture:

The other detail was the SECOND person in the “barricaded” room apparently left the room–before this law enforcement showdown with the door–without being seen by authorities, who were posted in their vehicles in a wide perimeter around the building. I saw some of this directly that night, including a uniformed officer with a flashlight apparently looking for someone in a building across from the hospital.

My partner asked an interesting question: has this incident hurt business? No, we were told, quite the opposite. In fact, someone asked specifically for this room BECAUSE OF this incident. Isn’t that curious? What does that say about the clientele?

In summary, it appears that law enforcement, across multiple jurisdictions, planned a training, gave minimal notice to the private business this training targeted, then proceeded to cause property damage after letting one of the pretend perps escape on a bike.

Oh, and then they lied to the media about it. If I’m wrong, I hope I’ll get a response to this email I just sent:

I know what you’re thinking, why no City Council members cc’d on this email? Well, since I know how much they love hearing directly from the public, I’ll wait for the next City Council opportunity to provide public comment.

Meanwhile, maybe someone who actually gets paid to report the news will do their job and figure out if trainings are being sneakily planned and carried out with unnecessary risk to the public.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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6 Responses to Was The SWAT “False Alarm” A Training No One Knew About?

  1. Johnnie Ulrigg says:

    Yeah Griffin Smith I was having a nice conversation with this Lee Enterprise’s reporter and I explained the situation of the Fourth amendment vehicle theft at our city does so well he’s no longer with the enterprises and he was pointing out the fact that the auto auction vice City PD was being done illegally and he said it seemed quite sketchy when he was at the auction he was looking into the legality of it and now he no longer works for Lee enterprises

  2. John Kevin Hunt says:

    BOOM! Another Zoom chron for sharing on my FB timeline.

    Much about what you were told makes little sense. WTF kind of “training exercise” is it in which hotel doors are broken down without warning to guests, or that fails to ensure that guests are evacuated? This is bizarre as Hell. It’s like the infamous snipers-on-rooftop-of-Msla-County-Courthouse episode that likewise was based on an “unfounded” hypothesis.

    Is the SWAT unit MPD, or MCSO providing ‘mutual aid’ to MPD?

    The right and need of thr public to know, clearly outweighs privacy interests here, since there is presumably no ongoing criminal investigation of an “unfounded” beluef, unless a potential allegation of falsely reporting an emergency is underway, and since civilian names could be redacted.

    Next question: was this a “live fire” exercise?

    I feel so much safer, don’t you?

    • I think the frustration of local media might be the kick in the ass they need to do their jobs more critically instead of faithfully taking the messaging from PIOs who appear to be feeding them bullshit.

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