Great Falls man sentenced to prison for firearm crime after shooting an individual in the hand with sawed-off shotgun

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

GREAT FALLS  — A Great Falls man who admitted to a firearm crime after shooting another man in the hand with a sawed-off shotgun was sentenced on June 16 to three years and four months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

Hunter Dylan Bell, 28, pleaded guilty in March to possession of an unregistered firearm.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided.

In court documents, the government alleged that in August 2020, Bell shot a man in the hand with a sawed-off shotgun over a dispute about a car just a few dozen yards from an elementary school in Great Falls. In a statement later to law enforcement, Bell said that on the day of the shooting, he had gone to retrieve a vehicle from the victim that the victim had stolen. Bell admitted to acquiring the shotgun and bringing it with him to the altercation but claimed to have shot the victim in self-defense. Bell acknowledged that the gun was placed in a nearby trash can after the shooting and that he had fled to Lewistown. Law enforcement retrieved the firearm from the trash can and determined it was a Mossberg Haven Model 495T, 12-gauge shotgun that had a barrel length of approximately 12.875 inches and an overlength of 24.50 inches. The government further alleged that at the time Bell possessed the sawed-off shotgun, he was prohibited from possessing firearms because he had a prior felony conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey K. Starnes prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Great Falls 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.

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