Wyoming News Update

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WYOMING SHOOTING

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming man accused of breaking into his parents' home and fatally shooting his mother when she confronted him in the living room has pleaded not guilty.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports 27-year-old Andrew Steplock entered pleas Wednesday of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness to four charges, including murder.

Police responded to an alarm south of downtown Casper on Feb. 26 and found 58-year-old Deborah Steplock with a gunshot wound to the head. Her husband was performing first aid, and she was declared brain dead at a hospital.

Deborah Steplock was kept on life support until Feb. 28 to arrange the donation of her organs, which had been her living wish.

Detectives say the son told them he broke into the home to steal from his parents.

FOREST FIRE INVESTIGATION

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Investigators say they're looking for a white male between 40 and 50 years old who they believe started a devastating wildfire in Wyoming.

They say he's between 5 feet, 10 inches (1.8 meters) and 6 feet (2 meters) tall and weighs 185 (84 kilograms) to 200 pounds (91 kilograms).

The Roosevelt Fire destroyed 55 homes as it burned 96 square miles (248 square kilometers) in western Wyoming last September and October. Authorities believe a man started the blaze by failing to extinguish a warming fire.

They say the suspect had brown hair and a short beard and carried a hunting rifle and compound bow on a backpack.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports anyone with information that might help investigators may call the U.S. Forest Service at (208) 557-5852.

AIRPORT-FIREFIGHTING GRANT

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — An airport in Wyoming will get U.S. government funding to renovate a facility for training firefighters to respond to burning aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires commercial airports to have aircraft rescue and firefighting personnel. They need training each year.

Only a handful of airports in the region including Casper Natrona County International Airport have facilities to train firefighters for aircraft fires.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports the airport will get almost an almost $9 million federal grant to renovate its facility, which opened in 1995.

Airport Director Glenn Januska says firefighters prefer to train at the Casper facility because it uses diesel fuel for fire scenarios, which is more realistic than other fuels.

POLICE CHASE-SHOOTING

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Prosecutors have filed attempted-murder charges against a Wyoming man they say fired a gun at police during a car chase.

Dominique Childers, of Casper, faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder, four of felony property destruction, one of felony theft and several misdemeanor charges.

He remained jailed in Cheyenne on $100,000 bond Wednesday.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports police arrested Childers on May 3. Cheyenne police and the Wyoming Highway Patrol say Childers drove a stolen 2016 Toyota Camry over 100 mph (161 kilometers per hour) on a highway and almost 65 mph (105 kph) through Cheyenne.

Police say Childers fired at a trooper and at a police officer who shot back, hitting Childers twice.

Childers couldn't be reached for comment and had no attorney on file.

HUNTING GRIZZLIES-CONGRESS-THE LATEST

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker says a push to permanently protect U.S. grizzly bears because they are considered sacred among Native Americans would elevate "sentimental biases" above science.

California Rep. Tom McClintock is the ranking Republican on a House panel that took testimony Wednesday on legislation to ban grizzly hunting outside Alaska regardless of population size.

McClintock says the proposal ignores the species' recovery in parts of the Northern Rockies. He says it would put the public at risk of more grizzly attacks.

Former Hopi Tribe chairman Benjamin Nuvamsa told lawmakers that grizzlies play a central role in the traditions and ceremonies of many tribes.

A federal judge last year blocked grizzly hunts in Wyoming and Idaho days before they were scheduled to begin. Attorneys for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are appealing the ruling.

OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING-LAWSUIT

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A city in Wyoming has settled a lawsuit over a fatal shooting by two police officers.

Attorneys for the estate of John Randall Veach said Tuesday they settled the lawsuit for $925,000 in damages.

Rawlins Police Sgt. Jared Frakes and Officer Joe Balestrieri shot and killed the Fort Collins, Colorado, man in a gas station parking lot in December, 2015.

A prosecutor from a county elsewhere in Wyoming concluded the shooting was justified. Attorneys for Veach's estate say the officers killed him "execution style" while he was trying to drive away. They say the officers weren't in danger and killed Veach without reason.

They say the department failed to discipline its officers.

Rawlins City Attorney Amy Bach and City Manager Scott Hannum did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

SheridanWyoming.com

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