Kalispell felon who confronted two strangers, displayed a gun was sentenced to more than six years in prison

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MISSOULA — A Kalispell man who admitted to confronting two strangers in a parking lot and displaying a firearm he was prohibited from having was sentenced today to six years and five months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.

John Lee Barlow, 42, pleaded guilty in October 2021 to prohibited person in possession of a firearm.

U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy presided.

The government alleged in court documents that on May 23, 2021, the victim called 911 to report that a man, later identified as Barlow, had pulled a gun on him and his girlfriend in a parking lot in Kalispell. The victim reported that he had parked his vehicle and started walking to a restaurant when a Dodge pickup drove toward him and stopped abruptly. Barlow, the driver and sole occupant, got out and started screaming at the victim for walking in front of him. Barlow then pulled up his shirt, placed his hand on a holstered pistol and shouted, “I’m the police!” before returning to his truck and driving away. The victim’s girlfriend witnessed the altercation and told officers that Barlow was “acting like he was gonna shoot us.” The girlfriend took photographs of Barlow and his truck. Surveillance video from a nearby casino recorded the interaction. Officers ultimately identified and arrested Barlow and obtained a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol from his residence. Barlow had prior felony convictions for aggravated assault in Georgia and was prohibited from possessing firearms.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Karla E. Painter prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Kalispell Police Department.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a U.S. Department of Justice initiative to reduce violent crime. Through PSN, federal, tribal, state and local law enforcement partners in Montana focus on violent crime driven by methamphetamine trafficking, armed robbers, firearms offenses and violent offenders with outstanding warrants.