BILLINGS, Mont. -- A West Virginia man who told authorities he was hitchhiking across the country and writing a memoir about kindness was injured in a seemingly random drive-by shooting near Montana's booming Bakken oil patch.Ray Dolin, 39, was shot in the arm as he approached a pickup Saturday evening thinking the driver was offering him a ride, said Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier.The shooting took place about three miles west of the town of Glasgow, along rural U.S. 2, a major route into and out of the oil patch.A Washington state man, Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, 52, was arrested about four hours later near Culbertson. Authorities say the suspect was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They released no motive in the shooting.
"He was sitting down to have a little lunch and this guy drives up. He thought he was going to give him a ride and as he approached the vehicle, the guy pulls out his weapon and shoots him. It's as simple as that," Meier said.Danielson was apparently headed to Williston, N.D., for work tied to the oil boom, although Meier said he offered few details. Danielson's brother, Tim Danielson, said he left home weeks ago, heading to the Bakken for work. He did not comment further.Dolin was being treated at Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow. A nurse said Monday he was not taking calls or accepting messages.Dolin told sheriff's officials that he was writing a memoir titled "Kindness in America." His father, Melvin Dolin, declined to speak about his son's plans, saying he had been working on his photography."I'd rather you eventually get that story from him. He had some ideas about that," he said.His son had left home in Julian, W.Va., last week bound for Washington state, said Melvin Dolin. He took a bus to the edge of Montana and intended to work his way to Washington from there, the father said."He was on the way across the country taking pictures," Melvin Dolin said, adding that his son's travel plans had been flexible. "He was going to make up his mind as he traveled along. But he didn't get that far."Ray Dolin's Facebook page lists his occupation as freelance photographer with OneShot Impressions. Dolin's biography on the business's website lists his passions as travel and photography."I believe that travel broadens one's view of the world," he wrote in the "about me" section of the website. "Experiencing other cultures, meeting people from other communities, other countries, and seeing the beauty of the world has helped me understand that all of our lives are both interconnected and individual."He studied communications at West Virginia State University, according to his Facebook page.Kimberly Cobb, a part-time faculty member at WVSU, said Monday she had spoken with Dolin in the hospital and he was doing well. She declined to say anything more.
The shooting follows another random attack earlier this year in which a popular 43-year-old teacher from the oil patch town of Sidney, Mont., was allegedly kidnapped and killed by two Colorado men on their way to the Bakken.As the two Colorado men wait trial in that case for the alleged murder of teacher Sherry Arnold's death, the case has stoked worries that a once-quiet corner of Montana has been irreversibly altered by the oil boom.Crime rates across western North Dakota and eastern Montana have spiked as thousands of workers flock to a region that has become one of the top-oil producing areas of the country. But Meier said Danielson's quick arrest by deputies in Roosevelt County 100 miles away from the shooting shows law enforcement is keeping up with the changes. "We're still the wonderful people in Montana we've always been, and we'll get through this," Meier said. "Things are going to happen whether there's the Bakken or not." Meier did not know if any words were exchanged between the alleged shooter and victim before Dolin was shot. He said they did not know one another.
Danielson was jailed in Roosevelt County on suspicion of felony assault with a weapon and driving under the influence. During an initial court appearance Monday, City Judge Traci Harada set bail for Danielson at $50,000 on the felony assault charge and $685 for the DUI. Danielson did not enter a plea. He is expected to make another court appearance Tuesday.The sheriff's office had identified Danielson as a resident of Olympia, Wash., but he said in court that he was from Tumwater, Wash., Harada said.Danielson has criminal convictions in King County, Wash., for assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, obstruction of law enforcement and exhibiting or carrying a weapon with intent to intimidate. Records show he was sentenced in 2005 to 8 months in jail on the charges.Charleston Gazette staff writer Lori Kersey contributed to this report.