A Rathdrum woman kidnapped at gunpoint by a man on the run from police was released unharmed in Montana as a multi-state search for the armed abductor continues.
The FBI has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of Mitchell L. Walck.
Walck, is alleged to have fired on an Idaho State Police officer during a pursuit Friday night. The officer was uninjured but the gunman escaped.
Authorities now believe he confronted Susan M. Smith, 62, outside her Rathdrum home and forced his way inside by gunpoint, shaved his beard and stole two rifles. He kidnapped Smith in her car and they drove to Glendive, Mont. where she was released unharmed, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.
Police were alerted to the kidnapping by a woman who called Sunday evening to report that her sister-in-law had been abducted.
The search began Friday night when Walck allegedly fled a traffic stop near Spirit Lake late, the sheriff’s office said, and several law enforcement agencies chased his truck for about 30 minutes. Walck escaped when he was chased into the woods near Bingham Road in Rathdrum after allegedly firing shots at an ISP trooper in pursuit. The shots did not hit the officer.
Police searched for Walck in the woods around Rathdrum Mountain on Saturday, using Spokane County Sheriff’s Air-1 helicopter to aid the search, but they never found him.
This is not the first time Walck allegedly has assaulted or attempted to assault a police officer. He was sentenced in May of 2002 to 10 years in prison for assault on a corrections officer at Powell County Jail. That incident took place in November of 2001, according to the Montana Department of Corrections website.
Walck was last seen driving the kidnapping victim’s 2005 silver Subaru Forester, Idaho license plate number K230050. He may have changed his appearance, the release said. Walck may have dyed his hair and mustache black.
The Montana Department of Corrections’ website lists Walck as married and originally from Pennsylvania. It also lists him as 5‘10”, 170 pounds, right-handed with brown eyes. He did not at that time have any listed scars or tattoos.
He was last seen wearing jeans, two-tone brown cowboy boots and long-sleeved shirts under a blue or black jacket.
Walck is considered armed and dangerous. Law enforcement believes he has a handgun allegedly used to fire at the ISP officer and two rifles stolen from the Rathdrum victim’s home, the release said. The two rifles are described as a 30-30 Winchester rifle and a Mossberg .22 caliber rifle.
There are rewards offered for information leading to Walck’s arrest including the sum of $1,000 from the Crimestoppers of the Inland Northwest and another $20,000 from the FBI Salt Lake City division, but officials advise citizens to call 911 if they have information about Walck’s location, but not to contact or approach him.
Authorities in Powell County, Mont. had no trouble today remembering their 2001 standoff and confrontation with Walck.
“I’m really concerned,” Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard said this morning. “He’s really weird character to explain in words. He sees and hears a lot that are just not there.”
In the 2001 incident, when Howard’s deputies approached the abandoned rancher near Drummond, Mont., they found Walck and his girlfriend inside the home. The girlfriend bolted to deputies and warned them that Walck intended to shoot and kill them, which led to the standoff, Howard said.
Howard recalled the strange things Walck would do during the standoff including putting down his rifle, jumping outside through a window and dancing. He’d jump back inside the home before he could be detained.
Howard coaxed him slowly out of the home and the SWAT team from Montana State Prison shot him with a rubber bullet which “knocked him senseless”, Howard said.
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