Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman has released the name of the man killed Monday morning during an apparent burglary of a private residence near Victor.
Hoffman said 39-year-old Tobias Ian Bishop, of Missoula, was shot by the homeowner after entering the residence through a window that he had broken.
Hoffman reported the investigation to-date shows Bishop had apparently burglarized at least one other home in the vicinity before he was shot.
Hoffman said Bishop had already gathered several chainsaws and other items near his van from outside of the second residence.
He said Bishop drove several miles up a private road in a borrowed van, parked the van between two homes, and began moving items from the two houses to the van.
He said evidence indicates Bishop had been in the area for at least an hour before trying to enter the occupied home where he was shot.
The homeowner was alone, said the sheriff.
He said initially the homeowner thought that snow was falling from his roof and hitting the ground, but when he got up to investigate the noise continued.
As Bishop broke the window, said Hoffman's press release, and entered the house, the homeowner encountered the intruder inside his home. He said the intruder's reactions then threatened the homeowner, placing him in fear of his life.
He said the homeowner, who is in his 70s, fired the handgun at Bishop. After being shot, said Hoffman, Bishop left the house through the same broken window, and fled a short distance before collapsing.
Hoffman said records from Arizona, Idaho and Montana reveal Bishop had a long history of criminal activity, including burglary, assault and drug related arrests, and was currently on arrest warrants in Arizona and Flathead County.
The sheriff said the homeowner has no criminal history and at this point is classified as a victim in this matter.
Hoffman said burglary is not predicated on items being stolen, but is the act of entering an occupied structure like this victim's home, with the intent of committing any other crime.
NBC Montana sampled reaction from people on the street. The shooting has certainly raised alarms, especially in a relatively rural area like Ravalli County.
"It's a nice place," said Kelly Thomas, "that's why I'm here with my kids. It sucks."
Brad Knight of Corvallis said, "It's pretty awful. I just heard about it. We live pretty remote."
Many people said shooting an intruder can be justified.
"We'll find out all the particulars later," said Dick Murphy, of Corvallis, "but if someone breaks into your home you're asking for trouble."
"It's unfortunate somebody was killed," said Matthew Shaw of Stevensville, "but if you're going to steal from somebody you assume the risk."
Many people said it is sad that someone died. It's troubling, they said.
This is the fifth violent death in Ravalli County this year.