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Police Find No Explanation for Fatal Shooting Spree

February 28, 1990

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) _ A man sat in an all-night restaurant for three hours Tuesday before drawing a pistol without warning, shooting an employee to death and critically wounding a customer, police said.

Police shot and killed Clifford James Harper, 39, when he stepped out of the 4B’s Restaurant and ignored repeated orders to drop his weapon, said police Chief Don Millhouse.

″The first thing I heard was the police yelling ’freeze,‴ said Paul Richards, who was spending the night at a cultural center a half a block away. ″There was some type of guttural response ... then pop, pop, real quick shots.″

Harper used a .41-caliber Magnum pistol to kill George Loewen, 64, who had been vacuuming the restaurant, and to wound Larry Lacock, 40, a customer sitting at the counter, Millhouse said.

Lacock, hit in both arms and grazed across the chest, was initially listed in critical condition at St. Patrick Hospital, but his condition was upgraded to good following surgery Tuesday evening, said an evening supervisor who condition of anonymity.

Harper had been staying in a motel in this secluded college town of 35,000 in western Montana, Millhouse said. He apparently entered the restaurant about 1 a.m. and stayed three hours.

Two police officers and a Missoula County sheriff’s deputy confronted Harper when he exited the restaurant, Millhouse said. Despite several warnings, Harper advanced and continued pointing his weapon at the officers, who shot him, the police chief said.

The shooting was justified, and no criminal charges will be filed, said Fred Van Valkenburg, a deputy county attorney.

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