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Ft. Washakie man arrested after gun fire in Riverton

Mar 19, 2017 - By Andrea Novotny, Staff Writer

The man accidentally discharged his rifle, sending a bullet through his neighbor's home.

There were no injuries after a Fort Washakie man accidentally fired a gun into his neighbor's home Thursday afternoon on Opal Drive in Riverton, narrowly missing the resident and a young child.

Tilford Tillman, 20, of Fort Washakie, was arrested for reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, at 4:34 p.m. Thursday. Tillman had been drinking when he discovered a 270 rifle in the home he had been staying at for the last three days. Police are unsure whether the gun was loaded or whether Tillman loaded it himself. He had a blood alcohol content of .168.

Police received the first call on the incident from the woman in the mobile home directly south of the home Tillman was in when he fired the gun. She contacted police after having vacated the residence with her child and told them that she was on the phone in her kitchen when she heard a gunshot and saw a "puff of white powder" come from behind her. The bullet entered through her trailer and a kitchen cabinet before becoming lodged in her refrigerator.

"The trajectory showed that it was probably within six inches of striking her," Riverton Police Department Capt. Todd Byerly said. He said the bullet was also within only about two and a half feet of striking a two-year-old child who was on the sofa at the time.

A short time later police received a second call regarding gunshots in the area. Authorities arrived on scene and immediately blocked off surrounding roads to secure the area.

They were initially unable to make contact with the occupant of the trailer from which the shot was fired.

As police set out to approach from the front door, while covering the back door, when they heard moaning coming from inside.

"At that point we think three things," Byerly said. "Either we have a suicide that went bad, we have an attempted homicide, and so we have a victim and a possible suspect inside the trailer, or we have an accidental discharge and someone's inside needing immediate aide."

Due to the apparent urgency of the situation, police forced entry through a glass French door at the rear of the trailer.

"At the same time that we busted the glass, the male subject that was inside the house identified himself anyway he was taken into custody," Byerly said.

Tillman told police that he was moaning because he was scared.

"It sounded like somebody was seriously injured," Byerly said.

Tillman had reportedly been living in the residence for about three days, after meeting the property owner on Facebook. The primary resident was not home at the time of the incident.

Byerly commended the neighborhood residents for their cooperation during the event.

"It was great because everybody stayed inside...When they saw that the situation was diffused, they came out and they said 'Is it safe to let our kids come outside?'" He said. "If they see cops in the street with their guns drawn, it's probably not a good idea to come out and report a vandalism to their shed or ask what's going on."

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