Little Bear gets three years for discharging shotgun in Billings hotel

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BILLINGS , MONTANA – A man who admitted illegally possessing a shotgun after a shooting incident at a Billings motel was sentenced today to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.

Roderick Lee Little Bear, 39, of Billings, pleaded guilty on Sept. 3, 2020 to prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

In court documents filed in the case, the prosecution said that Little Bear was convicted of a state felony in 2016 and was revoked in 2018.

On Oct. 17, 2017, Billings Police officers were dispatched to the Lazy KT Motel in Billings for a report that someone had shot a hole in the ceiling above a room with a shotgun. During the investigation, officers observed a suspect gray pickup return to the motel. Officers observed the driver exit the vehicle and a male, later identified as Little Bear, in the passenger seat.  As officers approached the vehicle, they heard the sound of a shotgun being racked.

Little Bear looked at both officers and both officers observed Little Bear with a shotgun. One of the officers advised he saw Little Bear raise the shotgun and appear to take a step outside the vehicle. Little Bear was commanded to drop his weapon.  Little Bear swung the shotgun in the direction of the officers and pointed the shotgun at them. The officers both fired shots at Little Bear. Officers directed Little Bear to show his hands and eventually Little Bear complied.

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A shotgun was located on the ground next to the pickup. Little Bear was transported to a Billings hospital for treatment of his injuries. Little Bear refused to provide a statement to detectives regarding the shooting. Interviews with motel residents revealed the shooting was likely a result of a feud between rival gangs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Patten prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

This case is part of Project Guardian, a Department of Justice initiative launched in the fall of 2019 to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Through Project Guardian, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Montana is working to enhance coordination of its federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement partners in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes. In addition, Project Guardian supports information sharing and taking action when individuals are denied a firearm purchase by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for mental health reasons or because they are a prohibited person.