SANDPOINT — An investigation into the shooting of a Bonner County man last month concludes that he was the aggressor in a confrontation that ended in a volley of gunfire.
Richard Allen Larson, who was shot twice during the gun battle with John Chester Bilsky, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault.
Bilsky was arrested on suspicion of aggravated battery following the Feb. 9 incident on Makers Way in the Upper Pack River Valley. But Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank held off on filing a charge until the shooting investigation concluded.
Bilsky, 58, was acting in self-defense when he fired on Larson, according to testimony from a probable cause hearing on Monday.
Sheriff’s Det. Sgt. Gary Johnston testified that tension and bad blood led up to the armed confrontation.
Bilsky’s girlfriend is Larson’s ex-girlfriend. The couple and Larson, 59, live in homes close to one another and Larson strung a cable gate across the road leading to the couple’s residence, Johnston said.
Investigators believe the obstruction was a method of creating opportunities for Larson to interact with his ex because it required her to exit her vehicle to open and shut the gate. As a result, the couple told investigators they developed a precisely-timed routine involving two-way radios which let Bilsky know when Lora Adams was at the gate.
Adams, 44, told investigators that when she arrived at gate on the day of the gunfight, she encountered Larson, who allegedly lamented the demise of their relationship and accused her of ruining his life. A physical altercation ensued in which Adams said she was punched and threatened with a pistol.
“She was very deeply in fear for her life and felt that this was probably the end of it right here. She was convinced that she was going to be killed,” Johnston testified.
When Adams did not alight on her doorstep when the time elapsed, Bilsky told investigators he proceeded to the gate, where he found Adams on the ground and Larson kneeling nearby.
Bilsky told detectives Larson drew the weapon on him and ordered him to leave. Bilsky said he began to back away and drew his own weapon.
Investigators concluded that Larson fired first and ended up using all six shots in his .44-caliber Ruger revolver. Bilsky fired twice, Johnston told the court. Only Larson was injured during the exchange.
“Is it fair to say Bilsky’s actions were a result of him attempting to defend himself as well as to defend Lora?” Greenbank asked Johnston during the hearing.
“Yes,” Johnston replied.
Judge Barbara Buchanan found there was sufficient cause to charge Larson with two felony assault counts for threatening Adams and attempting to shoot Bilsky.
Larson is scheduled to make an initial appearance in the case on April 1.
Immediately after the shooting, family and friends of Larson criticized sheriff’s officials, the prosecution and the media for their handling of the matter. They maintain the couple repeatedly antagonized Larson and ultimately drew him into the confrontation in which he was shot.