Missoula Camper refuses to leave and uses a hatchet against officers

On June 30, 2022, a Missoula Police Department officer was assisting Missoula Parks and Recreation with cleaning up the park and removing illegal campsites. The officer noticed a fortified camp near the California Street Foot Bridge. The officer confirmed that the person living below deck was 32-year-old Erica Winter. Lydia Arnold, Police Public Information Officer, explains.

“This camp created a danger to the community,” Arnold said. “It was full of trash and could become a public health hazard. Officers had prior contact with Winter and provided her with a means to clean up the trash and informed her that she was unable to establish a campsite. At this time, Winter was not removed from the campsite. She was educated and given materials to clean up. Winter did not adhere to the education provided by officers and prior to this cleanup, a large evacuation notice had been posted. Winter still hasn’t left and Parks and Recreation has asked for help.

On July 21, 2022, at approximately 9:00 a.m., officers arrived at the Silver Park scene to assist with the cleanup. The officers approached Winter’s encampment, which was still located below the bridge. Officers spoke to Winter and observed a green hatchet hanging from a string right in front of Winter’s face.

“For the safety of Winter, the officers and the public around the area, the officer attempted to pull the hatchet out of reach. Winter grabbed the hatchet and got into physical trouble with the officer Winter kicked the officer, causing injury and pain and endangering the safety of everyone involved.

The officer feared that if Winter was able to use the hatchet, they could be seriously injured by the weapon. The officer yelled at Winter to drop the hatchet, but Winter refused. At one point, an officer engaged with Winter and knocked the ax out of his hand with a swing of his arm.

Winter was repeatedly told that she was under arrest, but she reacted by screaming, shouting and physically resisting. Additional officers arrived and were able to help gain control of Winter. Winter was transported to the Missoula County Detention Center. She is currently charged with felony assault with a weapon and resisting arrest.

The information in this article was obtained from publicly available sources.

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