Department: Missoula County Sheriff's Office Rank: Deputy Age: 48 Tour of Duty: 2 years End of Watch: March 11, 1941 Cause of Death: Gunfire
On the morning of Tuesday, march 11, 1941, Deputy Lloyd Stringer was shot and killed by George R. Smith, a local mail carrier, in the Rattlesnake valley on Wylie Avenue.
The incident began when Montana Power Company employee, Richard Schipporeit, arrived at Smith's house to read his electric meter. Smith fired on Schipporeit from his back door with a .32 caliber pistol. Schipporeit was severely wounded through the chest, but managed to stagger 75 yards to the Henry Weingart residence. Schipporeit tried to climb through a bedroom window where Mrs. Weingart was sleeping. She then called the sheriff's office and notified them of the incident. Richard Schipporeit would die from his gunshot wound.
A group of deputies, including Deputy Stringer, responded to the Smith residence. Within two hours of their arrival the deputies launched gas bombs into the fruit cellar where George Smith had been hiding. This drove Smith out of the cellar.
Deputy Stringer had been standing near the back door waiting for Smith to emerge. Stringer alerted his fellow deputies that Smith was exiting. Smith then fired on Stringer, at point-blank range, with a 30-.06 rifle he had armed himself with. Stringer died within seconds of being shot.
Smith continued on his rampage, rushing towards and firing on Undersheriff R.D. MacLean. MacLean was able to return fire four shots, striking Smith once. During this exchange, a neighboring resident, Furman Green, was struck in the back while attempting to climb a fence to safety. Deputies later found him dead at the scene.
George Smith fled through the timber and brush along Rattlesnake Creek. He took cover in the bushes and was surrounded by law enforcement. Nearly four hours after the initial murder deputies were able to take Smith into custody. During this stand-off Smith sustained another gunshot wound, ending up with one in each shoulder.
Deputy Sheriff Lloyd Stringer had been a resident of East Missoula for six years after moving from Missouri. He worked for the Montana Flour Mills Company before being appointed deputy by Sheriff Jack Shoblom in January of 1939. Stringer was also an overseas veteran of the First World War. During his funeral he was honored with graveside rites by officials of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Deputy Stringer left behind his widow, his daughter (Dorothy Donaldson of St. Joseph, Missouri) and a five-year old niece named Joe May.