A fourth member from a group involved in a cross-county vehicle chase that occurred in March has been located.
Bernabe Mena, 33, is facing charges for nine felonies in Park County in connection with the chase, carrying a minimum of 85 years in prison.
“Mena was the ringleader,” said Jack Hatfield, deputy prosecuting attorney for Park County.
Mena allegedly escaped officers on March 21 after driving a stolen truck into a Powell police vehicle at more than 80 mph.
Winter Killsnight, 25, a passenger in that vehicle was apprehended by officers shortly after the crash.
It was revealed during Killsnight’s arraignment hearing, Mena has been a member of the Sureños gang.
There were warrants out for Mena in Montana and Texas at the time of his arrest April 16 in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, Hatfield said.
Mena has been a Powell resident in the past, and spent short stints at the Park County Detention Center in late 2017 and early 2018. He still has friends in Powell, Hatfield said.
It is likely that local connection allowed Mena to allegedly escape by foot to a female friend’s house in Powell to use her phone the night of the chase, Hatfield said. That woman’s cell phone revealed he made calls to Shay Dontmix, 24, to get picked up and return to Billings, from where their trip to Park County originally started.
En route to pick up Mena, Dontmix and Shyanna Wilson, 23, were seen by authorities who were still investigating the crash, and a car chase back to Cody ensued.
When Dontmix messaged Mena on Facebook later that day and told him he and Wilson were stranded without a vehicle in Cody, Mena did not respond.
Authorities also obtained a Facebook conversation Mena had with a different individual who asked him why he left Dontmix in Cody.
“He knew what he was getting into, he knew the risks,” Mena allegedly said.
At the time of his Idaho arrest, Mena was allegedly found with 100 hypodermic needles and marijuana being transported in his vehicle from Washington.
He is facing felony charges in Montana and in Texas, Hatfield said, that will likely be tried before his Park County charges are heard.
For now, he is in custody with a $50,000 cash-only bond at the Yellowstone County Detention Center in Billings on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, a probation violation and being a fugitive of justice.
Since Hatfield said Mena already has two convicted felonies on his record, if found guilty for any felony before his case comes to Park County, he would face a minimum life sentence in the state, as a three-time repeat offender.
Killsnight, a mother of three, is facing charges for robbery to inflict injury, fleeing or attempting to elude police, three counts of criminal conspiracy, two counts of aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon, and possession of a controlled substance, carrying a minimum sentence of 40 years in prison.
“She was not the mover and shaker in this whole deal,” said Tim Blatt, Killsnight’s public defender attorney.
Killsnight and Dontmix were not forthcoming initially about the identity of Mena, referring to him as “G.”
“They used the identity of “G” to deter my investigation,” said Brandon Tillery, a Cody Police officer.
Killsnight said she did not know him prior to the night of the alleged crimes. Photos obtained from a search warrant for her phone revealed otherwise, and she gave up Mena’s identity 10 days after being arrested.
“She absolutely knew who he was and who she was trying to protect,” said Rich Tillery, a detective with Cody Police. “She had a fear of identifying him.”
It was later discovered “G” actually stood for “B,” which Mena is referred to by friends.
That phone warrant also showed Killsnight was allegedly involved in the “business of distributing illegal drugs,” Hatfield said. The court affidavit said she and Mena were known car thieves, according to sources knowledgable about the pair.
When charges were initially filed after the incident, Hatfield accused Killsnight of being the driver of the stolen truck, but now that Mena has been detained he has ID’d him as the driver.
Killsnight said Mena discharged a sawed-off, semi-auto shotgun into a residence at Juby’s Mobile Home Park prior to the two car chases, causing more than $1,000 in damages.
“It was a blur, (Dontmix and Mena) started going buck wild with their guns, or (Mena) did,” Wilson said in the affidavit, adding that Mena looked like “a big, scary looking dude.”
Photos obtained from Killsnight’s phone taken on the night of the alleged crimes showed Mena pointing a sawed-off, semi-automatic Winchester shotgun at the photographer, with Dontmix standing by holding a Colt 1911 pistol and a bottle of Black Velvet whiskey. Authorities said the stolen shotgun was used to shoot the trailer.
The shotgun was found in the stolen truck, but the Colt was never recovered.
Hatfield also said charges are pending in a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives federal case against Dontmix involving stolen firearms matching the description of the Colt 1911.
The four suspects are also accused of stealing a pair of Puma shoes and a box of 9mm ammunition out of a vehicle’s glove box. According to the affidavit, they brushed aside a Ruger 9mm semi-handgun that was in the glove compartment to get to the ammo.
Dontmix and Killsnight are both still in custody with $100,000 cash-only bond.
Dontmix is facing a minimum of 20 years in prison on five felonies. Original charges for robbery and fleeing or attempting to elude police officers have since been dismissed by Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters.
Brandon Vilos, Dontmix’s public defender attorney, requested a lowered cash-only bond for his client, but Waters rejected that request.
“There is no basis for modifying bond,” Waters said.
During her arraignment hearing May 14, Killsnight requested a $20,000 cash or surety bond, but this was rejected by District Court Judge Bill Simpson.
“It’s unlikely she’s going to abandon those three children and take off on the run,” Blatt said.
Wilson is no longer in custody after posting a $2,000 unsecured bond. She had no prior criminal record before this incident and Hatfield said she had a minimal role in the events that transpired.
Dontmix has had a misdemeanor for assault of a family member and two instances of failure to appear in court, while Killsnight has been convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol, misdemeanor theft, and had 23 instances of failure to appear in court over the last four years.
“We have every reason to think she will not show up to court again,” Hatfield said. “She is not some innocent bystander. She was involved neck deep from the beginning to the end.”