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Man shot by police in armed standoff

Apr 16, 2020 By Clair McFarland, Staff Writer

An active shooter engaged for hours in a standoff with police Wednesday was taken into custody after being shot by a Riverton police officer.

The man, identified as 56-year-old James Hinman of Riverton, survived the shooting but reportedly was wounded critically.

Scanner traffic at 1:02 p.m. Wednesday indicated a hit-and-run suspect in Riverton was upset and had barricaded himself inside his home at 1412 Aspen Drive.

'Loading his guns'

The Fremont County Sheriff's Department call log from that incident denoted a person in a blue SUV, later identified as Hinman, had hit the caller's dark blue Chevy Silverado.

Hinman had parked his vehicle at his residence to the west of (the reporting party's vehicle)," the report states, then "had words with her" before going inside his home.

When police went to contact Hinman, he was barricaded in his home and was becoming increasingly hostile, scanner traffic indicated at the time. A dispatch report appeared to say Hinman was "loading his guns."

Shots fired

With peace officers surrounding the house, at around 2:20 p.m. he fired a single shot. Minutes later another eight shots in rapid succession were heard, for a total of nine.

Five minutes after that another eight shots rang out in the neighborhood, totaling 17 before 3 p.m.

"During the situation, the suspect initiated gunfire toward officers who returned fire," noted Riverton Police Department Captain Todd Byerly in a statement Wednesday evening.

No officers or civilians were injured.

Woman allowed to leave

A woman was escorted safely out of the home by the RPD and was the only occupant besides Hinman, RPD Chief Eric Murphy said in an interview with The Ranger.

Police evacuated neighbors from the area throughout the afternoon.

Although the Fremont County SWAT team arrived on scene - as did emergency medical services and the Riverton Volunteer Fire Department - local authorities called the Natrona County SWAT team, to gain the use of their Bearcat armored vehicle.

Natrona County SWAT arrived between 5 and 6 p.m. Hinman was shot and extricated moments later.

Officer on leave

RPD Capt. Todd Byerly confirmed Thursday afternoon that an RPD officer is on administrative leave, "as standard protocol for any officer-involved shooting" in the nation.

Byerly said it was his understanding that after the initial 17-shot volley, there was no further shooting until Hinman was shot by police.

Negotiators were deployed but "we were really unable to establish effective lines of communication due to safety issues," Byerly said, noting further that Hinman did not answer his phone.

"We did make multiple attempts to contact him."

Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee, who also was at the scene, reported Thursday morning that no one from his office discharged firearms during the incident.

Hinman was transported to medical care with life-threatening injuries.

Officer-involved shooting

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun said Thursday morning that charges have not been filed against Hinman, and may not be for a few days.

"We'll make a decision on what, if any, charges are to be filed in the coming days and (the timing) will be based on his condition," LeBrun said, adding that the case was still being investigated.

The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation has taken over the case.

While he would not speculate as to Hinman's medical condition, LeBrun indicated strongly that his office was less likely to file charges against a man likely to die.

Two previous officer-involved shootings investigated by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation over the past 16 monts in Riverton, and concluded by LeBrun's office, took months to complete.

Both subjects shot in those incidents had died prior to the investigations.

"I do know that (Hinman) is secured where he is," he said.

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