The man who died of a gunshot wound to the chest early Monday outside a Missoula strip club was identified on Tuesday as Christopher Hymel, a 23-year-old man from Madisonville, Louisiana.
The shooter’s name has not been released, nor has he been charged with a crime. The Missoula Police Department said the case remains under investigation.
“We’re still engaged pretty heavily in the investigation,” MPD spokesman Travis Welsh said Tuesday. “No arrests have been made. No determinations have been. We’re still wading through everything.”
What is known is that Hymel and another man became engaged in an altercation outside the Fox Club Cabaret on Brooks Street shortly after 1 a.m. Monday.
Police believe the confrontation began in the club’s parking lot, where Hymel and the man began to argue. The altercation turned violent after Hymel began punching the second man through the driver’s-side window of his vehicle.
During the altercation, the man in the car fired a single shot from his revolver into Hymel’s chest. Hymel was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“He (Hymel) was not armed with a weapon when our officers arrived,” Welsh said. “We have no indication he had been armed with a weapon prior to that.”
Welsh said the shooter surrendered his weapon to police when they arrived on scene. The man is cooperating with the investigation, Welsh said.
“Anything uncovered during the investigation is confidential until it ends up in an affidavit of probable cause,” Welsh said, adding it was too soon to say whether the castle doctrine would or would not apply. “I would call it a death investigation at this point. It’s not as cut and dry as other cases may be.”
The Missoulian was given the shooter’s name by a witness, but when called, the man hung up the phone.
A witness said the Fox Club had been “packed” to capacity late Sunday as the monthly “amateur night” contest played out on stage. At about 1 a.m. Monday, a small crowd began to gather outside the building.
The witness said roughly 10 people had gathered outside the door while another 10 gathered in the parking lot. She didn’t hear the two men arguing and said the gunshot “came out of the blue.”
Some confused the gunshot with a firecracker, the witness said. At least until Hymel fell to the ground behind the shooter’s vehicle.
The witness went back into the club where word of the shooting quickly spread. The club locked the front doors. Those inside were not allowed to leave and those outside were not allowed to enter until police arrived minutes later.
When the doors were opened, the witness said, she went back outside where Hymel was receiving CPR. She described the scene as “awful” and frightening.
According to the witness, one of her friends saw the shooter raise his hands after firing the shot and heard him say, “What was I supposed to do? He was beating the s— out of me.”