Box Elder faces federal charges

A Box Elder man has been charged in a complaint in federal court for an alleged shooting on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation that will likely result in the death of the victim.

Moises Zamora is charged with assault with intent to commit murder and use of a firearm during and in connection with a crime of violence.

The following information comes directly from United States District Court documents. The accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.

According to the affidavit, the Rocky Boy Police Department (RBPD) contacted an FBI special agent just after 1 a.m. on September 25, 2021. The RBPD said there was a shooting and officers were in pursuit of a suspect. On the officer’s way to the scene, the dispatcher said the pursuit was still ongoing and they had temporarily lost communication with the pursuing officers.

The chase ended in a remote location known as Bowery Peak.

The officer arrived at the scene around 3 a.m., where he found a white Dodge pickup truck. Looking inside, the officer observed what appeared to be methamphetamine spilled on the driver’s seat. One of the truck’s rear tires had also fallen off the wheel.

RBPD officers told the officer they responded to a call that a man, identified as John Doe, had been shot dead. Officers had a description of the suspect vehicle and at least one officer left the scene to find it.

‘I took off’: Suspect says he didn’t know he was being chased by police

Officers helping the unidentified victim said he had blood coming out of his mouth and was rushed to a hospital in Le Havre and then airlifted to Great Falls. Scene investigators reported finding three 9mm shell casings.

Officers searching for Zamora spotted the truck at a Box Elder bar, where Zamora was inside, and called for help. Apparently concerned about the presence of law enforcement, Zamora fled before reinforcements arrived.

Police secured the truck as evidence and towed it to a safe location while the officer spoke to Zamora, who reportedly agreed to be interviewed despite admitting to being under the influence of drugs.

Zamora said he had been at Box Elder for a few days. He said the truck belonged to his mother and he knew nothing of a shooting. Zamora allegedly admitted that the methamphetamine found in his pocket during his arrest belonged to him, but that the drugs in the vehicle did not belong to him.

When asked how the truck ended up where it arrived, he reportedly replied, “I took off.” He said he was driving in the mountains when he got a flat tire and then realized the police were behind him. He said he didn’t know he was being sued.

Zamora told police that a friend of his brought the truck to him at a gas station, possibly Box Elder. The affidavit says he could not recall his friend’s details or why the friend brought the truck to the gas station.

FBI agent finds bloodied clothes, ammo and drugs among victim’s belongings

The agent went to Le Havre to inspect the victim’s property. He found blood-stained clothing and a gun belt with .22 caliber cartridges and an empty gun holster.

While searching the Dodge truck, the officer found methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, .223 caliber live ammunition and a .40 caliber casing.

The officer spoke to a relative of Zamora who said Zamora lived with him before the shooting. The man said he was nearby when the incident happened.

He said Zamora was stoned the day before the shooting when he got into a verbal altercation with some people that involved racially-based slurs. The man said he fell asleep and was then woken up by a neighbor who said Zamora shot the unidentified victim.

The man said Zamora showed him a 9mm handgun in the weeks leading up to the shooting. He said that when he was riding with Zamora, Zamora told him that if he got pulled over, he wouldn’t stop.

Two other interviewees said they did not see the shooting but heard three shots and found Doe with gunshot wounds.

A third man said he was present during the shooting, telling the officer that he and others were hanging out with Zamora when Zamora and some of the individuals left. The victim was not present.

The witness said he was drunk at the time but recalled Doe riding the horse saying he was on his way to ‘the wake’, which the affidavit describes as a Native American funeral ceremony .

The witness said he had been talking to Doe alone for about 30 minutes when Zamora pulled up in the white pickup.

The witness said he asked Zamora, “What’s going on?” and Zamora replied, “Get out of the way real quick.” When the witness moved, he said he looked away for a moment and heard the sound of three gunshots as Zamora shot Doe and walked away.

The witness said there had been no acts of violence, aggression or provocation prior to the shooting.

When the officer spoke to medical staff about Doe’s condition, they reported that he was on life support and recovery was “unlikely”.

Zamora was arrested, but no other court documents reveal whether or not the victim died from his injuries.

Criminal justice reporter Traci Rosenbaum reports on law enforcement issues for the Tribune. Reach her at [email protected] or 406-791-1490.

Follow her on Twitter @GFTrib_TRosenba.

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Nohemi M. Moore