HELENA — Helena Police are investigating an alleged shooting and stabbing that happened at the Gold Bar in Downtown Helena early Friday morning.
According to officials, officers responded to the 400 block of N. Last Chance Gulch around 1:40 a.m. for multiple reports of a stabbing and shooting.
Owner of the Gold Bar Sarah Hamblock, in a statement to MTN, said an argument started between two groups of patrons inside the bar. Staff tried to separate the groups, but the argument continued outside.
“Near closing time on December 28, 2023, an argument broke out between two groups of patrons. Bar staff followed standard protocol to separate the groups, ushering one group outside and encouraging the other to stay inside. Unfortunately, the patrons continued their argument outside. The staff called police at this point. The Western and Gold Bar crew are deeply disappointed by these events. We've worked diligently to make the bar a safe place for all and a contributing part of our community.”
HPD said four people were injured and transported to a medical facility. Captain Randy Ranalli said this was an unusual incident and it is not common for HPD to respond to a situation with that many people injured at once.
“Quite extensive scene because it started inside and moved outside, so there was a lot going on for the detectives, a lot of evidence. They cleared there around daylight and there’s still more investigation going trying to interview witnesses and other people involved,” said HPD Captain Randy Ranalli.
This is believed to be an isolated incident and the case is active.
If you were there before officers arrived, or know anything, give dispatch a call at 406-457-8866 and ask to speak to a supervisor with the Helena Police Department.
“Yeah, the detectives are definitely working, following up on information they’re receiving. As I mentioned, people are injured so they’re waiting to talk to those people involved—some people have not been spoken with yet. Everybody is out trying to help one another, get as much information as we can and move the investigation forward,” explained Ranalli.
Downtown Residents and Businesses React
The area around the Gold Bar is often seen as a safe place to shop, eat or grab a drink according to people MTN spoke with. But following Friday's incident, businesses and residents are growing more concerned.
“I think Helena was a safe place and maybe it’s not so safe anymore,” said Stacy Henry, co-owner of Barnes Jewelry.
While neither Henry nor his store has experienced violent crime, he believes substances are a contributing factor.
“Anymore I think you’re hearing of people going over the deep end and maybe a little alcohol or whatever causes people to lose track of where their surroundings are,” said Henry.
20-year-old Maddie Oppel has worked downtown for the past three years at both Sage and Oats Trading Post and Old Salt Outpost.
She was working at Old Salt Outpost, which is located in the Gold Bar, on Thursday night and finished up her shift at 10:00 p.m.
“My jaw dropped; I was really surprised,” Oppel said about finding out the news earlier. “I know my friend was there last night, so I was concerned about him. Had to see if he was okay and he is. But, yeah I was just baffled mostly that that would happen there.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information from people who work in the area of Last Chance Gulch.