BILLINGS – A West Virginia man who claimed to be the victim of a drive-by shooting along a rural Montana highway while working on a memoir called “Kindness in America” has confessed to shooting himself, authorities said Friday.
Valley County sheriff’s officials said they believe 39-year-old Ray Dolin shot himself as a desperate act of self-promotion, but they offered no further details.
Dolin, of Julian, W.Va., acknowledged he concocted the tale about the random shooting after he was confronted by investigators at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Miles City where he is recovering, said Sheriff Glen Meier.
Charges were pending, and the case remains under investigation. Dolin has not been arrested, but the weapon he allegedly used to carry out the scheme has been recovered, the sheriff said.
Dolin had claimed he was hitchhiking along U.S. Highway 2 west of Glasgow on Saturday when the driver of a maroon pickup pulled to a stop and shot him in the upper arm with no provocation.
Authorities later arrested Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, 52, and charged him with felony assault. That charge was dropped Thursday, although Danielson remained in custody, accused of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he was arrested.
Meier indicated that Danielson denied any role in shooting after he was put into custody.
“I had the worst feeling he was telling me the absolute truth,” Meier said. “I kept telling him that we are seekers of the truth and we are going to work very hard to find out the truth of this incident. ... It was a great moment when I sent someone up to the jail to tell him he had nothing to do with it.”
Dolin runs a photography business called OneShot Impressions, which has as its logo the cross-hairs of a rifle scope.
He could not be reached for comment Friday. But Dolin said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press – before his alleged confession – that he recently had taken a bus from West Virginia to Sidney, and then began traveling across the state working on his memoir about people’s kindness.
Asked about Danielson being cleared, Dolin said in the interview that he was reluctant to comment because of the ongoing investigation and quickly changed the subject.
He talked at length about his planned photographic memoir, offering several supposed instances in which strangers had gone out of their way to help him along his journey. And just hours before his alleged confession, he repeated the claim that he was shot as he was stopped on the side of the road preparing a meal.
“He came up, pulls up at a normal speed, stops, points, shoots and drives off. It’s as simple as that,” Dolin said. “I did not get a good description.”