Deputy, victim in officer-involved shooting identified

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton has identified the deputy involved in the shooting late Thursday night on the 2600 block of Casper Drive in East Helena.

Deputy Andrew Blythe, 29, is the deputy involved. Blythe started with the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer in 2009. He applied for a deputy position and was hired as a sworn deputy in October 2011.

After his training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, Blythe has completed several advanced trainings, including crisis intervention and advanced weapon retention, and is one of the department’s use of force instructors for defensive tactics.

Blythe was one of a half-dozen deputies responding to a welfare check Thursday after a 911 call at 10:20 p.m. in which a woman said her boyfriend had send her photos of him self-harming, cutting himself.

Lewis and Clark County Coroner Bryan Backeberg has identified the man as 26-year-old Taylor Schnortz of Townsend.

Deputies arriving on-scene were informed that Schnortz was armed with a handgun, and began to negotiate with him.

Ultimately, Dutton reports that Blythe had to fire his weapon to protect himself and other individuals present. That occurred shortly before midnight.

As per procedure, Blythe has been placed on administrative leave, and Dutton has requested assistance form the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation in conducting an investigation of the incident.

Dutton will also conduct an internal investigation, and has appointed a shooting review board. The results of the internal investigation may be available inside two weeks. The DCI’s investigation is likely to take as long as six weeks to conclude.

Blythe will remain on administrative leave until the review is completed and he has undergone a fit-for-duty exam by a mental health therapist.