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Armed woman shot by SWAT Deputy

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 08:50:12 AM MST
Updated On: Oct 11 2013 05:49:53 PM MDT
COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. -

A 54-year-old Columbia Falls woman is hospitalized in critical condition after being shot twice as she advanced toward members of the Flathead County SWAT Team at the end of a standoff.

Tina Terry was flabbergasted when she heard the news -- "What do you mean, shes been shot?"

It was all a shock to Terry -- her friend, Michelle Gentry, was the center of a 4-hour long standoff at her home in Columbia Falls.

"I knew she was going through some things," said Terry. "But it want anything that I would have ever thought this was going to take place."

But law enforcement paints a different picture about Michelle's well being.

"We did receive information from another agency in the county requesting that we check on Ms. Gentry," explained Sheriff Chuck Curry. "They had concerns that she was suicidal and did have a weapon and the means to carry that threat out."

Curry tells NBC Montana authorities tried to negotiate with Gentry outside of her house for 4 hours. A SWAT team was called in and set up a perimeter. When Gentry suddenly exited the house with a handgun, we're told she "advanced" at the SWAT team and was shot twice.

"Certainly the officers will do what is necessary presented with the circumstances in the situation that they are [in]," said Curry.

But we wanted to know what guidelines are used to establish when to use force. According to a Professional Programs Manager with the Department of Justice, use of force by law enforcement "must be objective and reasonable given the totality of the circumstances known to them at the time the force was used."

"We always attempt to use the least amount of force that we possibly can to safely resolve any sort of situation," Curry explained.

Gentry had recently closed her boutique, Machallie G's, in downtown Kalispell. Terry sells her boots at Redneck Chic, and Melissa Beumer of Mimi's Bridal bought some of Gentry's things as well.

"A lot of us were hit pretty hard, she really felt the effects of it," said Beumer. "Even though she kept trying to carry on it was really hard for her in that location."

Neither had any thought that Gentry was feeling depressed.

"No, never," said Terry. "Michelle was feeling better about herself. Things seemed to be better."

Gentry remains in critical condition at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

The investigation has been turned over to Kalispell Police, where detectives say Gentry could face charges for allegedly "advancing" at the SWAT team when she exited her home with a handgun. The SWAT Deputy who shot Gentry has been put on administrative leave pending completion of KPD's investigation.