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Suspect in Crow Reservation killings arrested

By Lori Grannis

MISSOULA, Mont (Reuters) - Authorities Washington state arrested a man on Wednesday sought in connection with the shooting deaths of three people some 500 miles away on the Crow Indian Reservation in southern Montana, the FBI said.

The arrest of Sheldon Bernard Chase, 22, ended a two-day manhunt that covered at least five Western states for the man suspected of slaying his cousin, her boyfriend and her grandmother with a high-powered rifle on Tuesday.

The FBI said in a statement that Chase, who was said to be "armed and extremely dangerous," was taken into custody without incident in Spokane, Washington. The vehicle he was believed to be driving was also recovered.

The FBI said Chase was wanted for questioning in the three slayings but declined to release further details. He had been characterized previously as a suspect in the case as federal agents and police fanned out across parts of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas in search of the accused gunman.

The shootings occurred on Tuesday near the town of Lodge Grass, a rural community of roughly 500 people about 60 miles southeast of Montana's largest city, Billings, and 20 miles north of the Wyoming border.

The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his cavalry unit died fighting Indian forces in 1876, lies several miles to the north of Lodge Grass on the reservation.

Details of the shooting remained vague a day after the violence erupted.

Tribal officials said all three victims were tribal members, identified by the FBI as Gloria Sarah Goes Ahead Cummins, 80, her granddaughter Levon Driftwood, 21, and Driftwood's boyfriend, Rueben Jefferson, 20. Driftwood was Chase's cousin.

Chase, who was not enrolled as a current member of the Crow Agency reservation, is a member of the Crow tribe, a tribal spokeswoman said.

Crow Tribal Chairman Black Eagle said in a statement that the tribe remained in a state of shock.

"At this point, we don't know the details," he said, adding that the Crow Nation was deeply affected by the loss of fellow tribe members.

Authorities said the shooting occurred at a house on a remote corner of the sprawling reservation about 10 miles southwest of Lodge Grass.

(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)