Man charged for threatening to shoot Great Falls Farmer’s Market

John Holtz, 36, has been charged in connection with the threats made against the Great Falls Farmer’s Market on July 15.

He’s charged with one felony count of intimidation, five felony counts of assault with a weapon and misdemeanor resisting arrest and criminal endangerment.

Officers received reports of a man threatening to shoot people at the farmers market around 11 a.m. July 15. The man was making the threats from the fifth floor balcony of Park Manor Apartments at 100 Central Ave., according to court documents.

Threats impact Great Falls Farmers Market

When the officer responded to the scene, he saw about 300 people at the market and that people on the west side of the apartment building “appeared to be in fear, some were running away while holding their children,” according to the charging documents.

Witnesses told officers that Holtz exited his window and went onto the balcony where he yelled to the crowd that he was going to shoot people and some of those who called 911 to report the incident said Holtz said he had a firearm in his hand, according to court documents.

Multiple people called 911 regarding the incident, according to court documents.

Officers located the room Holtz had used to access the balcony, which is where he lives, and attempted to contact with Holtz.

An officer spoke to Holtz via his cell phone and Holtz said he was in Helena, but the officer could hear the officers on scene in the background, according to the charging documents.

Officers obtained a search warrant and began giving Holtz loud verbal commands indicating he was under arrest and needed to exit the apartment. Holtz did not comply and officers didn’t want to enter the apartment immediately due to the threats of a weapon, according to court documents.

An officer was able to administer pepper spray through the balcony window and Holtz attempted to exit his apartment, enabling officers to make entry and arrest Holtz.

He was taken out of the building to Central Avenue where he was evaluated by medical personnel. During that time, Holtz yelled at pedestrians, according to court documents.

Holtz was taken to the Great Falls Police Department for an interview and an officer remained on scene to search the apartment, per the search warrant.

During the search, GFPD located two black fixed blade knives and a spent 22-caliber casing on the floor, but did not locate a firearm, according to court documents.

Holtz told officers during the interview that he was yelling from his balcony but that it was about his video game. There was a television in the apartment but no associated video game system or games, according to court documents. There was a video game system in the bedroom but no associated television, according to court documents.

Holtz told the interviewing officer that he had moved the television in an attempt to barricade his room when he heard police say he was under arrest.

According to court documents, the interviewing officer didn’t believe that to be true and that Holtz had used a kitchen table in an attempt to barricade his apartment door.

“John’s actions caused reasonable apprehension in at least five individuals that he was going to discharge a firearm into a crowd. This use of speech from his balcony overseeing a busy farmer’s market threatened human disaster that would endanger life and property. John’s speech is reasonably expected to cause panic and fear which in a large group has a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury,” according to the charging documents.

The County Attorney’s Office is requesting a $150,000 bond.

Holtz has previous convictions in Oregon for assault, menacing and unlawful use of a weapon, according to court documents.