WHAT A CRAZY STORY
Sheriff Details Shooting Hoax During Glasgow News Conference
By: Samar Fay, Courier Editor
Published: Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
The unusual story about the West Virginia hitchhiker wounded in a drive-by shooting near Glasgow made international news one week and rebounded with a twist a week later. The ironic tale about a random attack on a man who wanted to write a book about the kindness of Americans has been revealed as a hoax.
Ray Dolin, a 39-year-old freelance photographer, has confessed that he shot himself in the arm and invented his supposed attacker. He couldn’t have dreamed that law enforcement agencies in northeast Montana would arrest a suspect who perfectly matched his fictitious description. After that, Dolin’s story fell apart.
Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier revealed details about the “incredible week” at a news conference Monday in the Valley County Courthouse.
“It’s obvious to me that Lloyd Christopher Danielson was an extremely unlucky person that day,” Meier said. “Everything fit so well with Mr. Danielson it was unbelievable.”
Danielson, 52, of Tumwater, Wash., was driving a dirty maroon pickup with a tool box like Dolin described, he had a history of weapons offenses in Washington state, and tire tracks showed that he had actually been at the historical marker 3 miles west of Glasgow where the shooting occurred on Saturday, June 9.
After three days on the job as a maintenance man at a Williston motel, he had quit and was headed back to Washington with a half-gallon jug of vodka. He stopped at the historical marker, drove to Malta, turned back, made more stops, got lost and asked directions at a ranch west of Glasgow.
Danielson was arrested for DUI near Culbertson about four hours after the shooting, brought to Glasgow, jailed on $100,000 bond and charged with felony assault. Since Dolin confessed, the assault charge has been dropped and Danielson is back in Roosevelt County on the original DUI charge.
Meier said Dolin is being treated at a Veterans Affairs hospital at an undisclosed location. He is not under arrest, but Valley County Attorney Nicholas Murnion may decide to bring charges.
As soon as the shooting was reported, the sheriff’s office had assistance from the Montana Highway Patrol, a BLM ranger and the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office with an intensive manhunt and roadblocks. When the pursuit turned east, the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Peck Tribal Police took a hand. The FBI, Border Patrol and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives played a part in the investigation, as did the state crime lab.
Meier said he was proud that the Valley County Sheriff’s Office continued to seek the truth in this case even after a suspect was in custody, following up inconsistencies and investigating the evidence. They thought it odd that Dolin would tell everyone in sight, EMTs, deputies and hospital people, that he was writing this “memoir” and he couldn’t believe this had happened to him. Danielson denied shooting anyone and his pickup contained no gun or cartridges.
A deputy replayed the GPS in Danielson’s pickup and determined that he had been at the historical marker earlier on Saturday, but at the time of the shooting he was at a ranch asking directions back to Williston. Officials established the time of the shooting after obtaining a voice mail of a cell phone call that Dolin made to a girlfriend in Washington state, on which they can hear the gunshot and Dolin saying, “Oh my goodness, I’ve been shot.” There is no sound of a vehicle speeding away.
Officials searched the historical marker site three times, widening their search each time, and on Wednesday, June 13, deputies found a five-shot .22 Derringer pistol some 68 feet out in the field. It had one round missing. Dolin had bought it on June 4 before leaving West Virginia. He took a bus to Sidney, where school teacher Sherry Arnold was kidnapped, and he hitchhiked to U.S. 2. Meier said Dolin loaded the gun, then tossed away the extra bullets and the cartridge box, so all he had in his backpack was the gun, which he threw into the field after shooting himself.
Two deputies went to the VA hospital in Miles City on Thursday and confronted Dolin with the evidence. He collapsed and confessed, expressing remorse for what he had done, although just minutes earlier he had repeated his fictional story on the telephone to the Associated Press.
Meier said Dolin’s father has called him three times to say how ashamed his son is of what he did to Danielson.
“His son said he couldn’t believe how law enforcement was able to get a suspect when there was nobody there,” Meier said. “He was amazed that his lie that he perpetrated actually produced a suspect. It’s a truly extraordinary story.”
Meier said he was happy to tell Danielson he was no longer a suspect in the shooting. The whole incident cost the Valley County Sheriff’s Office alone about $4,500 in overtime.
“This isolated incident is really a black eye for the Bakken,” Meier said. “This gentleman was riding on the coattails of the Sherry Arnold thing for publicity for his book. That’s a terrible thing. It disturbs me that it had to happen here. It was self-promoting of the book at our expense. Valley County is a wonderful place with good people.”
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