Two Montana women were arraigned recently in federal court for allegedly committing an armed robbery on March 20 at Billings’ Magic Diamond Casino. One then fired a gun into the air, and they led cops on a high-speed chase on the streets of Billings, federal authorities revealed in a statement released on Friday.
The women stole several bottles of whiskey from the small gaming venue and adjacent liquor store, authorities said. One allegedly pulled out the firearm and pointed it at two casino workers. Police did not say if the pair stole money, too, and the amount, if any.
Before fleeing to their nearby parked car, the gun was fired into the air, authorities add. Soon, they were driving as fast as 80 mph on local streets to evade pursuing officers, authorities later said. Police eventually stopped their chase of the car, because of safety concerns for the public given the high speeds.
But a short time later, the car was spotted by Yellowstone County deputies. The car came to a stop when it was driven into a fence at the Ponderosa Elementary School in Billings. The school is located 6.2 miles south of the gaming venue.
A woman later identified as Makyla Shayd Fetter, 27, of Harlem, allegedly jumped out of the car and ran away. Within a few minutes, she was apprehended. While at the school, Fetter allegedly tossed the firearm away.
She was believed to have been the suspect who fired the weapon. Both bandits were dressed in black sweatshirts while at the casino. Hoods covered their faces.
Child Finds Loaded Gun
On March 21, a kindergarten student at the elementary school saw, and scooped up, a loaded handgun on the school’s playground, the Billings Gazette, a local newspaper, reported. A teacher became aware of the weapon, took it from the student, and handed it over to the school’s principal. It is now seized as evidence in the casino robbery case.
The second suspect, Taliah Jeneane Ramirez, 22, of Billings, also was later apprehended.
Last month, each was charged with three federal counts after an FBI investigation. The charges include robbery affecting interstate commerce, possession of firearm during a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm in a school zone, according to the Montana US Attorney’s Office.
The two appeared before Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan on April 26. The case was continued to next month.
Ramirez remains in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility on a federal prisoner hold as of today (May 5), according to online jail records.
Fetter initially was also booked into the same jail, the Gazette reported. But she either was released on bond or was transferred to another correctional facility.
If convicted on the robbery charge, each could face up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release, federal prosecutors said. A conviction on the firearm charge could mean anywhere from 10 years to life in prison, prosecutors add.
Late last year, Billings saw several casino robberies. There is no indication those cases are linked to Fetter or Ramirez.
Fetter was also charged by local county prosecutors for the Magic Diamond Casino robbery, the Gazette reported. Some of the charges are robbery, criminal endangerment, and tampering with physical evidence, KULR, a local TV station, reported.
It is unclear if Ramirez will face local charges, too.
The Gazette further reported that both defendants have prior charges pending in Yellowstone County.
Fetter was charged last year with two counts of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and a single count of obstructing an officer, the report said. She allegedly had non-prescribed methamphetamine (meth) and other painkillers in her possession.
Ramirez was charged with possession of narcotics with intent to distribute and child endangerment, the report adds. She also allegedly had meth in her possession.
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