W.Va. hitchhiker is shot while writing memoir on kindness

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BILLINGS, Mont. -- A West Virginia man who told authorities that he was hitchhiking across the country and writing a memoir about kindness was injured in a seemingly random drive-by shooting near Montana's booming Bakken oil patch.

Ray Dolin, 39, was shot in the arm as he approached a pickup Saturday evening, thinking the driver was offering him a ride, said Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier.

The freelance photographer, who runs a business called OneShot Impressions, was injured about three miles west of the town of Glasgow, along rural U.S. Highway 2, a major route into and out of the oil patch.

Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, 52, of Washington state, was arrested about four hours later near Culbertson. Authorities said Mr. Danielson was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They released no motive in the shooting.

"He was sitting down to have a little lunch, and this guy drives up. He thought he was going to give him a ride, and, as he approached the vehicle, the guy pulls out his weapon and shoots him. It's as simple as that," Sheriff Meier said.

Mr. Danielson was apparently headed to Williston, N.D., for work tied to the oil boom, although Sheriff Meier said he has offered few details. Mr. Danielson's brother, Tim Danielson, said he left home weeks ago, heading to the Bakken for work. He declined to comment further.

The shooting follows another random attack in which a 43-year-old teacher from the oil patch town of Sidney, Mont., was allegedly kidnapped and killed by two Colorado men on their way to the Bakken earlier this year.

As the men await trial in the murder of teacher Sherry Arnold, the case has stoked worries that a once-quiet corner of Montana has been irreversibly altered by the oil boom. Crime rates across western North Dakota and eastern Montana have spiked, as thousands of workers flock to a region that has become one of the top oil-producing areas of the nation.

But Sheriff Meier said Mr. Danielson's quick arrest by deputies in Roosevelt County, 100 miles away from the shooting, showed that law enforcement was keeping up with the changes. "We're still the wonderful people in Montana we've always been, and we'll get through this," the sheriff said.

Sheriff Meier did not know if any words were exchanged between the alleged shooter and victim before Mr. Dolin was shot. He said they did not know one another.

Mr. Dolin was being treated at Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow. A nurse said Monday that he was not taking calls or accepting messages.

Mr. Dolin had told sheriff's officials that he was writing a memoir titled "Kindness in America." His father, Melvin Dolin in Julian, W.Va., declined to speak about his son's plans, saying he had been working on his photography. "I'd rather you eventually get that story from him. He had some ideas about that."

After graduating from college in recent years, Ray Dolin started OneShot Impressions to pursue freelance photography, his father said. The business' website features a logo of the crosshairs of a rifle scope, and has a statement from Mr. Dolin citing photography and travel as "two of my greatest passions in life."

Mr. Danielson was jailed on suspicion of felony assault with a weapon and driving under the influence. He did not enter a plea during an initial court appearance Monday, and City Judge Traci Harada set bail at $50,000 on the assault charge and $685 for the DUI. He was expected to make another court appearance today.


First Published June 12, 2012 12:00 AM


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