Suspect in custody after vehicle pursuit

Updated 1 p.m. Oct. 18 

A suspect is in custody after a police chase south and west of Great Falls involving multiple agencies on Oct. 17, according to the Great Falls Police Department.

On Oct. 18, Santana LeDeau was charged with two felony counts of robbery, felony two counts of assault on a peace officer and a felony count of criminal endangerment.

All Great Falls Public Schools were under a precautionary shelter in place order, as were city private schools and those in the Town of Cascade on Oct. 17.

GFPS Superintendent Tom Moore said that the shelter in place was lifted at about 2:40 p.m. and students would be released normally.

Great Falls Police Department Chief Jeff Newton said that around 11:55 p.m. Oct. 16, LeDeau was identified as a suspect in a vandalism incident in the city.

Around 12:22 p.m. Oct. 17, LeDeau was involved in a disturbance on the 2400 block of 10th Avenue South during which it’s alleged he fired a gun into the air, Newton said.

After that, LeDeau left the scene in a stolen vehicle and was alleged to be driving recklessly and in the wrong direction on 10th Avenue South, Newton said.

According to the court documents, police received reports of road rage and a hit and run involving the white Chevrolet truck that LeDeau was reported to have been driving when he left the scene of the disturbance.

Within an hour, a GFPD officer located LeDeau on the 1000 block of 3rd Alley North, where he refused to stop and the pursuit was terminated for lack of probable cause for a forcible felony, Newton said.

At that point, LeDeau left the city limits, Newton said, but GFPD continued to exist.

As a precaution, Great Falls Public Schools went into shelter in place, Newton said.

Cascade County Sheriff Slaughter said that around 1:30 p.m. deputies responded to a report of a shooting, robbery and attempted carjacking at the Ulm offramp where LeDeau allegedly fired another round and fled in a vehicle southbound.

The victim reported that he was approached by a male in a a white Chevrolet truck and that the male driver attempted to hijack the victim’s vehicle and shot out the victim’s rear window, according to court documents. The victim later reported that he was exiting I-15 at the Ulm exit when the same white truck came up behind him at a high rate of speed, according to court documents. The victim told police he believed there was an emergency so he pulled over and LeDeau existed the truck holding a gun, approached the victim and told him to give him the vehicle. LeDeau allegedly shot the back window of the vehicle and pointed the gun at the victim who sped off, according to court documents.

LeDeau then fled the scene but ran out of gas in Cascade. He then approached another victim and requested gas, according to court documents. The victim didn’t have gas but offered LeDeau a ride to get gas and once in the vehicle, LeDeau brandished a weapon and the victim exited the vehicle, according to court documents.

At this point, deputies caught up to LeDeau and as he gained control of the second victim’s vehicle, LeDeau allegedly accelerated toward a deputy, attempting to hit the deputy, according to court documents. LeDeau then fled through Cascade on 1st Street at a high rate of speed and entered the northbound lanes of I-15 in the wring direction, according to the court documents.

LeDeau exited at Wolf Creek where Lewis and Clark County deputies joined the pursuit and the suspect took Highway 434 to Highway 200, Slaughter said.

During the pursuit, LeDeau allegedly collided with the same deputy he’d attempted to hit in Cascade as the deputy was attempting to gain control of the suspect’s movement, according to court documents. As the deputy moved next to the suspect’s vehicle, when LeDeau pointed a gun at the deputy’s head, according to court documents.

LeDeau hit another vehicle on Highway 200 at Mile Marker 128 in Simms and was taken into custody, according to court documents.

Prosecutors asked that LeDeau’s bond be set at $500,000 due to his behavior and criminal history, which included a May 2022 DUI conviction and two arrest warrants for robbery in Yellowstone County.

One of those incidents was a convenience store robbery during which LeDeau allegedly threatened the clerk with a machete and the other is a carjacking during which he peppersprayed the victim and took their vehicle.

Throughout the pursuit, a helicopter from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol was tracking LeDeau’s movements to assist law enforcement on the ground.

The agencies said early in the incident that multiple agencies were involved in a “volatile and lengthy incident that ran from Great Falls south into Lewis and Clark County, then back into Cascade County where it ultimately terminated in Simms.”

Newton said that if anyone has information about LeDeau’s behavior or movement throughout the day to contact GFPD or the CCSO.