An encounter involving two groups of people in an alley in Lovell at approximately 1:20 a.m. on Saturday morning turned into a melee that resulted in two individuals requiring medical attention—one with multiple stab wounds that not only required surgery but also a Life Flight to a Billings hospital.
According to Police Chief Nick Lewis, two men (Taylor David Tholin and Michael Yoffredom) and two women were walking in the alley between Kansas and Jersey Streets and Third and Main Streets when they encountered a number of individuals socializing in a backyard on private property located adjacent to the alley.
Lewis said witnesses said a conversation between the two groups quickly erupted into an argument and a physical fight, during which time Raymond Montanez, one of the parties at the private residence, was stabbed multiple times, allegedly by Tholin.
Lewis said Yoffredom and the women continued walking but Yoffredom went back to intervene when he heard the ruckus, at which time he was also injured. Lewis could not say specifically what Yoffredom’s injuries included except that they were not life threatening.
According to Lewis, the two injured men were transported to North Big Horn Hospital. Yoffredom was released. Montanez, however, required surgery and was Life Flighted to Billings Clinic where he spent approximately four days in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.
Lewis said he spoke to Montanez on Tuesday at the hospital in Billings and said he appeared to be recovering but in a great deal of pain.
After the stabbing occurred, police searched for the suspect, Tholin, for several hours. Eventually, officers from the Powell Police Dept., acting on a tip, were able to locate Tholin at a residence in Powell and detained him until Lovell Police officers arrived to make the arrest.
Tholin, who was arrested and charged with battery using a weapon, was transported to Big Horn County Detention Center where he was being held at press time. Tholin appeared in court early in the week, but information was not available at press time regarding his appearance.
Lewis said according to officers at the scene, alcohol appeared to be a factor in the incident and a number of people at the scene attempted to intervene. It is alleged that one of the women attending the private party struck one of the women walking in the alley. Lewis said that matter is being investigated as a separate incident.
Within a relatively short period of time following the main incident, Lewis said a vehicle that was stolen from a nearby residence in Lovell was found abandoned near a residence in Shell. A resident in Shell reported finding the abandoned vehicle on her property, which appeared to be out of gas, then noticing that her own vehicle was missing. The missing vehicle from Shell was later found in Powell.
Lewis said forensic evidence from the stolen vehicles has been collected and is being processed by the Wyoming Crime Lab. A separate investigation of the stolen vehicles, including whether or not they were connected to the earlier incident, is in progress, said Lewis.
“This was a very serious situation and we are fortunate that with so many people and a weapon involved, no one else was injured,” said Lewis.
By Patti Carpenter