Suspect under arrest in Helena

GOLD CREEK - A 47-year-old Spokane man was shot and killed in front of his wife and 4-year-old son at the Gold Creek rest area 65 miles east of Missoula on Tuesday evening, police said. A North Dakota man was later arrested in Helena.

The victim and his family were traveling to Arizona in a station wagon when they pulled into the rest area off Interstate 90 to use the restroom, said Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard.

As they returned to their station wagon, a red Mustang hatchback with at least one man inside backed up about 30 yards next to the victim's vehicle, Howard said. The victim's wife told police that before the family got back in the car, she looked down then heard a pop. Her husband was shot near the heart and began bleeding profusely.

The woman told police there could have been as many as three men in the car.

The Mustang left eastbound on I-90. Law enforcement authorities searched nearby roads for about an hour. The car was spotted in Helena around 8:30 p.m. leaving I-15 toward Montana City. Five officer vehicles surrounded the Mustang and officers approached the car with guns drawn.

Douglas Allan Zander, 26, of Mandan, N.D., was arrested and taken to the Lewis and Clark County Jail on suspicion of deliberate homicide. A gun was recovered from the vehicle, which was later impounded, police said.

Authorities were aided by a small boy who saw the Mustang leave the rest area, looked at the license plate and was able to pick out the North Dakota plate by looking at a Highway Patrol license ID card.

Police closed the rest area and were interviewing witnesses at the scene late Tuesday night. The victim's wife and son were visiting with a minister.

No motive for the shooting was given. The state Criminal Investigation Division has taken over the case.

Carolynn Farley of the Helena Independent Record contributed to this report.

Wednesday - 6/30/99

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