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Canadian man is suspect in armed encounter, illegal border crossing

| April 30, 2021 7:00 AM

A Canadian national suspected of illegally crossing into Montana near Eureka and arrested after an armed encounter with a Border Patrol officer and pursuit through the woods appeared in federal court on criminal charges on April 23.

Tommy Plante, also known as Joseph Sylvain Tommy Plante, 32, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, had an initial appearance on a criminal complaint accusing him of illegal entry into the United States and of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm and ammunition, according to acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson.

If convicted of the most serious crime, Plante faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

According to the criminal complaint and affidavit filed in support of the complaint, the government alleged that on the evening of April 19, the Eureka Montana Border Patrol Station received information from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that Plante was possibly in a kayak on Lake Koocanusa and may be attempting to enter the United States.

The next morning, a Border Patrol agent arrived in the area and saw a beached kayak and campsite in Montana, about one-quarter mile south of the border. The agent approached the subject, later identified as Plante, and identified himself as with the Border Patrol.

Court documents allege Plante stepped toward the agent and grabbed a rifle that was leaning against a tree. The agent drew his government-issued handgun while taking cover behind a tree and ordered Plante to put down his rifle.

Plante allegedly slung the rifle on his shoulder and put up his hands but did not put down the rifle. Plante picked up a water bottle and ran into the woods. Multiple agencies joined in a ground and air search for Plante, who was arrested without injury about 5.5 miles from the initial encounter.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Judge DeSoto ordered Plante detained pending further proceedings.

The case was investigated by the Border Patrol

and the Air and Marine Operations, both within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security; FBI; Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks; and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.