HELENA - A 9-1-1 call captured two women's voices saying, "Don't do it," and, "You took my husband," before gunshots rang out in a shooting that left a man and a woman dead in a Helena apartment.
The line went dead, and the dispatcher at the other end put out the alert to officers: "Shots fired! Shots fired!"
Seven minutes later, another 9-1-1 call came from the same address, and a woman said: "I loved you with all my heart. It's because of that b-. You traded me for her, Joe. I loved you."
The quotes from court documents and a police dispatch log provided new details into the Thursday morning slayings of Joseph Andrew Gable, 48, and Sunday Cooley Bennett, 50, at Gable's home. Gable's estranged wife, Michelle Coller Gable, appeared in court Friday to face two counts of deliberate homicide.
The shooting happened just two days after Joseph Gable filed for divorce from his wife of 25 years and three weeks after he attempted to obtain a protection order from her after she came to Helena from her home in Maryland. District Judge Dorothy McCarter denied that request, writing in her order, "No personal danger or threat involved."
Just after 6 a.m. Thursday, a woman called 9-1-1 from the apartment and said a man was being shot by his wife and the wife was going to shoot the caller, too, according to an affidavit by Helena police Lt. Corey Livesay.
Police declined to release the audio from the calls because of the investigation, but the affidavit said the 9-1-1 recording captured the sound of gunshots. Then the woman who called 9-1-1 could be heard saying, "Don't shoot me, you b-," and, "Don't do it."
A second female voice said, "You took my husband," then gunshots were heard once more.
Nobody came back on the phone and the line was disconnected, according to the log from the Helena Police Department's dispatch center.
The log noted another call seven minutes later, after the gunfire had ended, with the unidentified woman saying, "I loved you with all my heart."
Moments later, responding officers found a woman in the apartment's doorway who said her husband had been shot and she needed help, Livesay wrote. The officers heard groaning and saw an injured man lying across the doorway. They dragged him away and laid him on a sidewalk because he was unable to move, according to the documents and interviews with neighbors.
The man told officers, "My wife shot me," and, "Sunday is in the basement."
Inside, they found a dead woman near a staircase with an apparent gunshot wound to her chest, Livesay wrote. They also found two handguns and spent ammunition.
Joseph Gable died from his gunshot wounds at a hospital about an hour after the first shots were fired, according to the dispatcher's log. His wife was treated for an undisclosed injury and turned over to police.
Michelle Gable, handcuffed and in an orange jail jumpsuit, made a brief court appearance Friday to hear the allegations against her. The 48-year-old told Justice of the Peace Michael Swingley that she understood the charges and that she had requested a public defender.
Swingley set bail at $250,000, which is $50,000 more than prosecutors recommended. Gable's next hearing was scheduled for Oct. 28.
Police did not release any information about Bennett, other than to say she had recently moved to Helena from Texas. Her relationship to Joseph Gable was not immediately clear.
A white vehicle with Texas plates registered to Robert and Sunday Bennett was parked in Gable's driveway the morning of the shooting, police said.
Two phone numbers listed for Sunday Cooley Bennett in Rosenberg, Texas, were disconnected.
On Sept. 20, Joseph Gable sought a temporary protection order from his wife, saying that he and Michelle Gable were separated but that she had shown up in Helena from her home in Clinton, Md.
He alleged that his wife was stalking him and then confronted him at his apartment while he was trying to change the locks. He said she threw a laptop computer down the stairs, tried to block him from leaving the apartment and prevented him from driving away because her rental car was parked behind his vehicle.
"She has been out of Montana on the East Coast in Maryland for over two years, came back unannounced and is trying to disrupt my life anyway she can, apparently," he wrote in court documents.
He said his wife didn't have any firearms that he knew of, but he accused her of intimidation and holding him against his will, along with stalking. He asked that McCarter order Michelle Gable to stay at least 1,500 feet away from his home or office. McCarter denied the request the next day.
Joseph Gable, in his petition to dissolve his marriage, said the pair had been married in 1986 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, and that they have no children. He wrote that he is a computer support specialist and that he worked for the Montana Department of Transportation.
He said the reason for the divorce is that "there is serious marital discord" and "no reasonable prospect of reconciliation."