Already in trouble for allegedly bringing stolen, loaded handguns to school, two Hamilton teenagers attacked an officer Friday afternoon and escaped from the juvenile detention center in the Ravalli County Courthouse.
The teens were captured seven hours later in the Sleeping Child drainage outside of town, and now face a longer list of charges.
"This was obviously a very serious situation," Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman said Saturday.
Hoffman said 15-year-old Kagen Gorden Richardson and 16-year-old Jacob Allen Wilson assaulted a juvenile detention officer at about noon on Friday, took her keys, found their street clothes and walked out of the courthouse.
The officer was then able to call 9-1-1 for help. She suffered a head injury, and was treated and released at Marcus Daly Hospital. On Saturday, she was recovering at home, according to the sheriff.
Meanwhile, officers from the Hamilton Police Department, Ravalli County Sheriff's Office and Montana Highway Patrol spent the afternoon hunting for the teenagers.
Richardson was being held in the detention center for burglary and theft, and officials were investigating allegations that he (possibly with Wilson's help) brought handguns to West View Alternative Learning Center in Hamilton. Wilson had been convicted of stealing a car and attempted theft, the sheriff said.
Hoffman credited a local citizen with spotting the boys in the Sleeping Child area at about 7 p.m. Friday, and alerting police.
"He had heard their description, and saw two kids in a field who seemed to match it," the sheriff said. "We had deputies and a Highway Patrol officer in the area, so they were able to respond fairly quickly."
The boys took off running, but officers gave chase and brought them in, Hoffman said. "They got them corraled up pretty quick."
Wilson and Richardson now face charges for attacking the detention officer and escaping from custody. The Ravalli County Juvenile Detention Center is not supervised by the sheriff or his staff, Hoffman said, but rather by the Ravalli County commissioners.
The circumstances of the escape remain under investigation.
The investigation also continues into the incident at West View school. After a student reported seeing the guns, officers found an empty holster, a camouflage jacket and a speed-loader filled with live ammunition on the premises.
One of the boys was apparently able to leave the school with the guns, which police later found at his home. A school resource officer said the boys admitted steaing two revolvers from a Hamilton residence.
Hoffman said his department was very concerned when the teens then broke out of the juvenile detention center, and on Friday afternoon cautioned all Hamilton and Bitterroot Valley residents to lock their cars and homes. The citizen's tip, he said, was ultimately the key to bringing the boys into custody before nightfall.