Posts Tagged ‘Michael Gordon’

by lizard

Michael Gordon was just saying goodbye to some ladies he’s known since childhood when Christopher Hymel attacked him for no reason. That’s Gordon’s version of the story, as reported by the Missoulian. Hymel didn’t testify, because he’s dead. From the link:

The inquest began Monday morning with testimony from several of Hymel’s friends who were present during the shooting. The friends claim Gordon enticed Hymel to his truck after insulting Hymel’s girlfriend, Megan Navarro, and friend Chira Graham.

Gordon and Hymel exchanged punches through the driver’s-side window.

Missoula Police Det. Mitch Lang showed a surveillance video of the parking lot that showed Gordon and Hymel exiting the club and the fight that ensued.

In the video, Gordon left first and climbed into his truck, which he apparently started by remote. Several minutes later, Hymel and his group of four friends exited the club and walked past the truck.

The truck’s lights turned on and in audio footage played for the jury later, it’s clear Gordon revved his engine when the girls walked past.

According to the testimony of the four friends, Gordon was calling out to the girls vulgarly through his driver’s-side window. However, they couldn’t remember exactly what he said to them.

According to Gordon’s testimony, he opened his window to say goodbye to the girls, who he had known since childhood and the next thing he knew Hymel attacked him.

“I didn’t do anything. I didn’t say anything,” he said, during his emotional testimony. “I was attacked out of nowhere.”

Four people testify Gordon was calling out to the women vulgarly. Audio of the incident catches an engine being revved. Gordon maintains he was just saying adios to childhood friends. Just speaking from personal experience, I don’t associate the revving of a truck outside a strip club in the middle of the night with a cordial see you later coming from the operator of the gas pedal. But that’s just me.

The article goes on to describe what can be discerned from the video footage:

The video shows Hymel and Gordon fighting through the truck window, but it’s not clear to what extent Gordon was fighting back. At one point during the fight, the truck started shaking and pieces of the window’s rain shield shattered.

According to Gordon’s testimony, he was being brutally beat by Hymel and grabbed his gun from the center console while he was leaned over the center, protecting himself from the blows.

Hymel’s friend, Steven Ellingson, attempted to break up the fight, and grabbed Hymel from behind, ripping his shirt.

Hymel stepped back to remove his shirt, while Gordon opened car door and fired a shot at Hymel. The bullet pierced his lung and fatally ripped through his aorta.

In the heat of the moment, Gordon didn’t consider driving away, he said and he couldn’t roll up his window because he was using that arm to protect himself from Hymel’s punches, Gordon said.

So Michael Gordon had a loaded gun in his center console ready to go. Is that even legal? And what about alcohol? Did anyone on scene even bother to get a blood sample to determine if alcohol was a factor? Gordon was supposedly cooperative with law enforcement, right? WTF?

As an impressionable new gun owner, this case is forming my sense of what I can and can’t do with my handguns. What I’m learning is that I can travel around with a loaded gun in my car and if some sort of physical altercation ensues, I can grab my gun “in the heat of the moment”, open my car door, gun in hand, exit my car, aim my handgun, and shoot the person who attacked me.

And this is legally justified?

What kind of weight does a jury decision from a coroner’s inquest carry? Is this case all wrapped up now? Did the Missoula County attorney’s office get the desired outcome with this punt?

Inquiring minds would like to know.

by lizard

Today the Missoula County Attorney’s office punted the Fox Club shooting case. Instead of bringing charges, or not bringing charges, prosecutors want a coroner’s inquest:

Missoula County prosecutors have declined to file charges in the shooting death of Christopher Hymel, the 23-year-old Louisiana man who was killed in the Fox Club Cabaret parking lot over a month ago.

Instead, Missoula Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks announced Monday that prosecutors are requesting a coroner’s inquest – the outcome of which will determine whether or not they will pursue charges against Michael Gordon, the man who admittedly shot Hymel in the early morning Sept. 1.

“The question is whether or not the shooting falls underneath the state’s definition of justifiable use of force and whether or not Mr. Gordon justifiably used deadly force,” he said.

Gordon claims he shot Hymel to protect himself from an assault, Marks said. Hymel was apparently unarmed during the altercation.

During the inquest, the facts of the case will be presented to a jury and Marks will interview witnesses and law enforcement officers, while Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen presides. He said Ibsen and the jury will also be allowed to ask questions.

He said he couldn’t comment further on the case because it’s confidential criminal investigation information, but the details of the shooting will be revealed during the inquest.

Hymel and Gordon apparently began to argue while they were leaving the strip club around 1 a.m. Police claim the argument escalated when Hymel began punching Gordon through the driver’s-side window. Gordon pulled a revolver from his car and fired a single shot into Hymel’s chest. Hymel was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

After 5 weeks, this? At least the Missoulian is no longer keeping the name of the killer off the pages of its publication. Michael Gordon is the young man who admittedly shot and killed Christopher Hymel. That last paragraph in the quoted selection above is also interesting. It’s a much more vague accounting of events than this depiction in an earlier article from the Missoulian:

The shooter, described only as a 27-year local man, pulled a revolver from his truck and shot 23-year-old Christopher Michael Hymel, a Louisiana resident in town visiting his girlfriend’s family, once in the chest. Hymel was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.

Witnesses said Hymel had stepped to the window of the man’s truck to discuss the vulgar comments the man had made toward two of Hymel’s female companions.

A fight ensued through the passenger window of the man’s truck. When Hymel stepped back to remove an article of clothing, witnesses told the Missoulian, the man allegedly stepped from his truck, shut his door, raised his revolver and shot Hymel in the chest.

So now our current Sheriff, Carl Ibsen, will preside over a messy sounding legal process where both jurors and the Sheriff can ask questions of witnesses while the prosecutor interviews witnesses. Remember, this is all happening after a 3 week investigation and a 2 week review of the evidence.


While killers like Michael Gordon and Markus Kaarma get to go about their lives, there are people sitting in jail for a wide variety of minor, petty offenses, like failing to appear on violations of city ordinances.

Fred Van Valkenburg can pull numbers out of thin air, like he did in the recent article about overcrowding in the county jail, which I wrote about here, but I don’t think anyone takes Fred seriously anymore.

The bigger problem is this: how can the Missoula County Attorney’s office restore public trust after years of scandal and dysfunction?

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