Crime & Courts

Oct 8, 2011 8:18 PM by Evan Weborg (Helena)

Hamper charged after police standoff in Helena

Eric Hamper is facing several charges after a hostage situation in Helena that lasted more than 10 hours on Saturday.

Officials tell us that he is being charged with kidnapping, robbery, assault with a weapon, and criminal endangerment.

The incident began when police responded to Friendly's convenience store on 11th Avenue after receiving a report of a possible robbery.

The attempted robbery turned into a hostage situation when police report the clerk was being held at gunpoint.

Helena Police Chief Troy McGee said, "They had a suspect in there that was holding the clerk hostage, they had a gun held against him, at one time even held it against his head, threatening to shoot the hostage, threatening to shoot himself."

After two hours police negotiators were successful in convincing the suspect to release the hostage.

Then, negotiations began; Chief McGee said, "He made some different demands and most of them we could not meet."

Since the suspect's unknown demands could not bet met, a SWAT team was called to the scene.

FInally, shortly before noon on Saturday, crews entered the store and arrested Hamper.

Chief McGee noted, "The hardest part was sending the SWAT team in, that is the hardest part, they are going in there and it is gut-wrenching when you have to send them in there, you know they are going into a place where you know somebody has a gun, may shoot at them...that is really hard."

Officers took Hamper to St. Peters Hospital for further evaluation before taking him to jail.

He could face his charges in court as early as Sunday, because of the holiday weekend, or on Tuesday.

McGee says no bond has been set yet in the matter, due to the felony charges.

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