The man who allegedly opened fire on a Box Elder police officer before taking two hostages and fleeing into a home occupied by a 10-year-old is being charged with a bevy of crimes, including attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault of an officer, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, burglary and kidnapping.

Justin G. Littrell, 31, of Yankton, is being held in the Pennington County Jail awaiting arraignment after he surrendered to officers midday Tuesday following a shootout, hostage situation and negotiation with a city/county Special Response Team negotiator.

Along with the aforementioned charges, Littrell is also being tried for possession of a firearm by a felon, attempted kidnapping, threat of felony terrorism and commission of a felony with a firearm.

According to an affidavit filed in the 7th Judicial Court on Thursday, Box Elder officers responded to a report of a man with a backpack, identified as Littrell, walking along a creek near the Prairie View Estates subdivision one mile south of Interstate 90 in Box Elder.

When officers arrived, they were advised that Littrell had a gun. Littrell then kicked down a door and forcibly entered a home on the 400 block of Freude Lane before running from the home and firing at least two rounds from a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol at an officer, the affidavit reads.

At a home on the 300 block of Freude Lane, Littrell came across a man and woman doing yard work and directed them into a garage at gun point. Distracted by the man, the woman was able to escape. The man was then directed to get on his knees in the garage, according to the affidavit. 

Littrell then ran from that home to another home on that block, which was occupied by a 10-year-old girl, and entered through a window. The girl was able to contact her mother using a cell phone and quickly escaped through a second story window with the help of a sheriff’s deputy, according to the affidavit.

Inside that home, Littrell contacted Pennington County Dispatch and made a number of threats, claiming to have hostages, a grenade and counting down as if he were threatening to shoot someone, the affidavit says. He also demanded a helicopter land in the home’s backyard. According to the affidavit, after talking to a negotiator, Litttrell exited the home without further complication and was placed into custody.

During an interview with investigators, court documents say Littrell admitted he had recently attempted to sell methamphetamine at the Buffalo Chip Campground and spoke “extensively about his own use of methamphetamine.” He admitted to taking the man and woman hostage, firing at an officer, and forcibly entering the home on Freude Lane, the affidavit reads.

Officers later found a backpack Littrell had said he ditched near a fence. Inside, they found Littrell’s identification cards, including a social security card, as well as “an amount of methamphetamine.” The firearm and a cellphone were found inside the last home he occupied. 

Littrell is a convicted felon for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute after being found with between one-half and one pound of the controlled substance. The conviction prohibits him from possessing a firearm. He was on parole but had absconded. He had two active warrants in Yankton.

Captain Tony Harrison of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the deputy commander of the city/county Special Response Team, credited deputies Rusty Schmidt, Tana Tallon and Sgt. Ryan Cook for acting quickly and getting the young girl out of harm’s way before the situation could turn more serious.

“That’s a tough decision to make, and it seems like it’s easy, but it’s not when you’re standing in the moment of 'what do we do?’” Harrison said in an interview Wednesday, calling the result “fantastic.” “These guys didn’t waste any time.”

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Contact Samuel Blackstone at samuel.blackstone@rapidcityjournal.com and follow him on Twitter or Facebook @SDBlackstone.

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