A surprise development has come to light in the Gun Free School Zone Case involving Gabriel Metcalf in Billings, Montana. As they were processing Gabriel for release from jail on his personal recognizance under the Federal charges, they informed him that he could not leave. Reports say his attorney, Russell Hart, responded by saying, “No, we have an order from the judge for his release.” They then informed Hart that the charges on this warrant are not federal; they are local charges.
They had not served the warrant, but the jail refused to release Gabriel due to the warrant’s existence. No one could say exactly what the warrant alleged because no one in the jail system, Gabriel, or his Federal defender had seen the warrant as of early Thursday evening.
This morning, Friday, 22 September, the Yellowstone Detention Facility inmate search engine showed Gabriel as still in custody. Instead of the single federal charge, with a $0.00 bond, it now showed two charges, the federal charge and a local Misdemeanor Assault charge with a $2,500.00 bond. It seems peculiar that the Billings Police could find this warrant right as they were about to release Gabriel.
Before the arrest of Gabriel on the single federal charge of possessing a firearm in a federally defined Gun Free School Zone, records show Billings police had, more than once, stated Gabriel had not broken any laws, so they had no grounds to arrest him.
A Billings Police Lieutenant is on record as saying they could look to the federal government to possibly find a way to arrest Gabriel.
“We have made contact with him on multiple occasions, and currently he is refusing to stop displaying his firearms while on his property,” said police Lt. Matt Lennick. “At this time, he has not done anything illegal and we do not have the authority to arrest him, take his firearms, or force him to stop coming out into his yard.”
There is no state statute that restricts guns within a school zone, especially on private property adjacent to a school, the lieutenant said.
“We have reached out to the FBI and ATF to see if there is federal statutes they can assist with,” he said.
More information will undoubtedly surface over time. Speculating isn’t productive until we know more.
Gabriel is fortunate to have a very competent federal public defender, Russell Hart. It is not clear what sort of representation he might obtain in the Montana system. Two years ago, a Yellowstone County judge held the director of Montana’s Office of the Public Defender in contempt of court. From apnews, September 14, 2021:
District Court Judge Donald Harris issued an order in August for OPD Director Rhonda Lindquist to appear before him after he learned 663 cases in Yellowstone County District Court had not been signed to a public defender as of July 31.
“This problem, in this particular district, has persisted for months,” Harris said during Monday’s hearing, “and it appears to the court that the problem is only getting worse.”
Gabriel’s mother, Vivian, has to work Friday, this weekend, and Monday, so this issue is unlikely to be resolved before Tuesday. Russell Hart is prevented from working on the local issue because he is a Federal Defender. It seems Gabriel will remain in jail for at least another four days, after receiving information about his supposed release on Thursday.
Gabriel and his mother are poor as church mice. Vivian has to work to keep the utilities on in their home. She is 71 years old and has a day job and an alterations business in Billings.
Gabriel’s mother has set up a GiveSendGo site to help defend their home, the Second Amendment, and work to free Gabriel from this unjust detention.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.