by Travis Mateer
I pulled off Interstate 90 in Superior, Montana, so my partner could have a quick bathroom break on the way to the “community debrief” in St. Regis after Saturday’s shootout at the Travel Center, leaving one suspect dead and three others temporarily detained. More on that further down.
On the way back to the highway I saw Mineral County Sheriff, Ryan Funke, leaving work around 5:15pm. I’m mentioning this because what happened next is either a trauma response to stress, or an indication of what this Sheriff thinks about following the law, because once Funke hit the highway he opened it up and hit speeds over 90 mph.
Maybe he was just excited to see his pals, the Montana Highway Patrol guy and Sanders County Sheriff who, like Ryan, is new to the Sheriff position as of January. Here they are in the school gym getting ready for the hero treatment.
The debrief was NOT a chance for press to ask questions, that was made very clear by the woman who led the event, Amy Lommen. Instead, the intent was for community members to connect with resources, like counseling, since SO MANY in the community were witnesses to Saturday’s shootout. Witnesses were also directed to NOT SHARE specific details, since the investigation is obviously ongoing and being led by DCI (Division of Criminal Investigation).
One of the witnesses DCI will want to talk to (if they haven’t already) is the man suing Mineral County with his hammer of Mandamus, Lance Jasper. Lance was ALSO the first witness to address the community on Monday, tearfully expressing his gratitude for the cops who killed the bad man. Will this create some kind of conflict with that legal process, since the Mandamus hammer is also pounding away at the Sheriff’s Office?
In Mineral County, here’s the reality created largely by the man pictured above: The Sheriff’s Office is currently AT WAR with the County Attorney’s Office, and the result is NOT GOOD for the community. What do I mean? For starters, why were the County Commissioners NOT invited to this community event? Here is the statement from Commissioners:
If I lived in Mineral County I would be VERY interested to know WHY the Commissioners weren’t informed of this event. I would also wonder WTF the Sheriff thinks he’s doing by making comments like this on social media:
Another concern I’m hearing about involves the female suspect taken into custody on Saturday. I have a source who informed me that this woman has ALREADY been released from jail. If this happened WITHOUT consulting the County Attorney’s Office, that would be pretty fucked up. I’m also hearing that Lance Jasper was getting privileged access to the crime scene. Maybe because his family essentially runs this County?
The HERO narrative that’s quickly emerged around this shootout involves one of Lance’s family members, Ken Jasper, who got a door locked JUST IN TIME. This act probably saved the lives of multiple people who were taking shelter inside.
This post is NOT denying the heroism involved in going toward danger for the greater good of the community. That’s the job Sheriffs and their deputies are PAID to do. Another job requirement of being a Sheriff in Montana, at least from my limited perspective, is the ability to find scapegoats for any deficiencies that may emerge during a critical incident response.
Sheriff Ryan Funke exhibited this skillset superbly on Monday when he referenced a “disconnect” between Idaho law enforcement and Montana law enforcement that’s being investigated. I’m not sure it’s smart to start throwing Idaho law enforcement under the proverbial bus at this point, but I do appreciate the reference from Funke (after the tears subsided) because now it’s something I can investigate as well!
I was excited to talk to some members of law enforcement OUTSIDE Montana because I find cops surprisingly relatable, having worked so closely with plenty of beat cops during my days working at the homeless shelter. I even chatted recently with the former crime-prevention officer I served with on the Mayor’s Downtown Advisory Commission, and was happy to hear he’s going to be retiring soon.
It’s weird to think of that period as the good ‘ol days. Here’s a screenshot that takes me back to that time and the people I once respected. Only a few have stood the test of time.
I’m showing readers this proof of my time influencing the influencers for a specific reason, and that reason is to provide an answer to the question posed in the title of this post–who dares challenge their hero narrative. The answer? Me, of course.
Before driving back to Missoula County at 5 mph below the speed limit, I left my contact information at a specific place in Superior regarding a rabid dog, but I won’t say where, because the citizens in that County aren’t safe from reprisal.
The good news is that rabies case definitely appears to be fake. The bad news is the case of powerful institutions enabling dangerous individuals keeps expanding.
While writing this post I DID have two conversations with members of Idaho law enforcement, and I think my concerns about what I heard at the community debrief in St. Regis were well received. It certainly helps that I have a proven track-record of collaborating across jurisdictions here in Missoula when it comes to chronic homelessness and the challenges that particular subset of the “houseless” population provides.
This Missoulian story about the debrief includes Sheriff Funke’s comments about that supposed “disconnect” I gave two Idaho jurisdictions more perspective on. From the link (emphasis mine):
Witnesses described a terrifying, bloody, chaotic scene at the crowded St. Regis Travel Center this past Saturday as an armed robbery suspect stormed through a gift shop waving a gun.
Meanwhile, the Mineral County Sheriff has hinted that there was a “disconnect” between law enforcement agencies in Idaho and Montana that “can be improved.”
Whatever this supposed disconnect was, I’ll note that NOW is a great time for an honest assessment, since that COULD lead to an opportunity to better resource border-counties like Mineral County with some financial help from our state’s BILLION+ surplus.
Or not. The choice belongs to the badges and suits, who are overseen by the gavels and Commissioners, who themselves have an Attorney General and Governor to look to for leadership in a crisis touching multiple parts of the state, as evidenced by this acknowledgment from the AG over the weekend:
I hear you, AG Knudsen, but then again I hear lots of words from lots of people over the course of a day in Big Sky Country. What I would like EVEN MORE is to SEE some fucking action in the dark places where the known problems lurk.
If you appreciate the unique position I am in to challenge this quickly-established hero narrative before more details are known to the public, you can help my efforts by donating to my about page.
Thanks for reading!