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Press Release

Browning man admits shooting, wounding man on Blackfeet Indian Reservation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

GREAT FALLS — A Browning man accused of shooting and wounding a man in the head on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation admitted to charges today, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Joseph Paul Vandenberg, 20, pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon and using a firearm during a crime of violence as charged in an indictment. Vandenberg faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release on the assault charge and a mandatory minimum of five years to life in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release on the firearm charge.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The court set sentencing for July 11. Vandenberg was detained pending further proceedings.

The government alleged in court documents that in the early morning hours of March 11, 2022 in Browning, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Vandenberg was a backseat passenger in a vehicle that was cruising around when the driver pulled up and blocked the driveway of a home as the victim, identified as John Doe, and a friend, got into a SUV that was backed into the driveway. Doe tried to maneuver around the vehicle. Vandenberg opened the back door of the vehicle, pulled out a firearm and fired a round as Doe’s vehicle was driving away. The bullet grazed the side of Doe’s head and lodged in the dashboard at the base of the windshield. Doe was treated for a large laceration on his head. Vandenberg admitted to being the shooter and told law enforcement that the driver told him to shoot, and he did because he was scared.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kalah A. Paisley is prosecuting the case. The FBI and Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services conducted the investigation.



Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer



Updated March 12, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 24-65