Shotgun shooting victim was MTI studentMITCHELL, S.D. — Matt Montag would have turned 20 Sunday.
By: By Austin Kaus, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
MITCHELL, S.D. — Matt Montag would have turned 20 Sunday.
The Mitchell Technical Institute student didn’t get to celebrate his birthday. Montag was killed in an apparent accidental shooting Saturday evening.
Another MTI student, William Dean Davis, 21, was arrested Saturday after allegedly shooting and killing Montag with a shotgun. According to court documents, Davis unintentionally pulled the trigger on the shotgun but had not intended to kill Montag, who died at the scene.
Davis was charged with first-degree manslaughter, a Class 3 felony punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $50,000 fine. He is being held in the Davison County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bond.
Davis briefly appeared via video camera in front of Judge Patrick Kiner Monday afternoon where he was informed of his rights and the maximum punishment allowed by law. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday. Kathy Johnson of the Davison County Clerk of Courts office said Davis has not been indicted for the crime.
The former Burke resident twice indicated to investigators that he was drunk at the time of the shooting, according to the court documents.
The police report said Davis allegedly held the double-barreled shotgun while it was “broken open,” which means the gun was split at the breach, with the barrels pointing down.
The report states Davis, all in one motion, flicked the shotgun upward with his right hand and inadvertently pulled the trigger. There was at least one shell in the barrel, the report said.
The shotgun fired and Montag was hit in his upper body by at least one grouping of pellets.
Mitchell Police Det. Lt. Don Everson said a small group of people were at 512 S. Duff St. when the fatal shooting took place at about 9:20 p.m. Saturday.
Julie Brookbank, director of marketing and public relations at MTI, said both Montag and Davis were enrolled as utility technology students at the time of the shooting.
MTI classes were held at the campus Monday. Students in the school’s powerline program, the overall program where Montag and Davis took classes, were gathered together Monday morning and informed of the shooting. They were offered counseling options, Brookbank said.
Brookbank said Montag’s death was a “sobering experience” and a tragedy. It’s also a lesson on the “sense of invincibility” that many young students may possess in their post-secondary years.
“We spend so much time stressing safety in the workplace,” Brookbank said. “Sometimes, it’s safety in all things.”
Montag was a native of Big Stone City. He was a Milbank High School graduate.
Everson said Montag and Davis were not in a dispute at the time of the fatal shooting.
Fellow MTI student Bryan Huber, 24, said Montag and Davis were “very good friends.” As he left class at the MTI Energy Training Center on Monday afternoon, he somberly described Montag as “a good kid” and a diligent student who loved to hunt.
“He stayed out of trouble. He always kept his nose clean,” Huber, originally of Miller, said. “You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy to be in class with.”
Teyton Knutson, 20, is studying SCADA at MTI. He said he and Montag would occasionally hang out outside of class with other mutual friends.
“He was goofy in his own little way, but he was pretty quiet,” Knutson said.
Brenda Mayer and her husband, Gary, have lived one block away from Saturday’s shooting site for almost 30 years. In that time, they’ve come to know their neighborhood as a mellow collection of neighbors that aren’t known for throwing loud parties.
Mayer and her husband both heard sirens on Saturday night, but they had no idea that the sounds were related to a fatal shooting in their neighborhood.
“The neighborhood’s always been pretty quiet,” Mayer said Monday. “It just unfortunately got kind of loud.”
Austin Kaus is a reporter at The Daily Republic in Mitchell, S.D., which is owned by Forum Communications Co.