On July 31, 2020, at around 6:00 p.m., Missoula Police Officers were dispatched to an apartment in the 1200 block of McDonald Avenue. 9-1-1 received a report from a man and woman regarding suspicious activity by their neighbors. Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh explains.

“The complainant has prior history of making unfounded reports, or reports that appear to have basis in delusion, and appeared to be having some type of mental health crisis on this particular evening,” Welsh said. “He reported that multiple persons were outside of his apartment brandishing firearms with the intent to kill him and his roommate, an adult female.”

The man was identified as 34-year-old Michael Austin. He reported that he had armed himself and was prepared to deal with any attacks.

“Because the officers had prior knowledge, they spoke with Mr. Austin on the phone and they convinced him and the adult female to come out of their apartment without weapons,” Welsh said. “Officers made contact with both and asked them to describe what had occurred.”

A witness inside the home said he saw Austin standing at the door with a firearm and that the woman was standing right behind Austin with a black pump shotgun, which they continued to hold onto until officers arrived.

“At one point, Austin stated that he had fired two rounds from one of his weapons out of their apartment toward a maintenance closet,” Welsh said. “He reported hearing noises that convinced him that there were people inside who were intent on causing him and his adult female roommate harm.”

Austin confirmed that he owned three weapons, and that the weapon that had discharged was his AR-15 assault rifle.

With Austin’s written consent, officers seized the firearms from inside the residence. MPD officers determined that Austin knowingly pointed a loaded rifle in the direction of a closet that he believed to be occupied by one or more unknown individuals and discharged two rounds.

Austin was charged with one count of felony criminal endangerment. His charging documents can be seen here.


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