With 11 shooting incidents occurring in East Idaho in February — six involving police officers — investigators looking into the Aug. 1, 2020, Tin Cup Campground shooting have changed their focus and put the campground shooting on the back burner.
Members of the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force were assigned to investigate the campground shooting. That same team is investigating the 11 other shootings, Custer County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Oleson said. The task force of law enforcement personnel from several agencies investigates officer-involved shootings and other incidents to avoid conflicts of interests. February’s rash of shootings has kept them busy, Oleson said, at the cost of investigating older incidents like what occurred at the campground near Stanley.
In August, off-duty Bonners Ferry Police Chief Brian Zimmerman was on vacation when he shot and killed Boise resident Russel Liddell after they got in an argument.
According to Oleson, when it comes to investigating shootings, task force members have to prioritize based on how recently the crime occurred, evidence and threat to the public. As the shootings kept occurring in Pocatello, Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Shelley and Chubbuck, the Tin Cup investigation kept getting pushed back, Oleson said. Also, Oleson said, the investigators have their jobs outside of the task force to contend with, adding to the delays.
The high number of shootings comes at the same time the Idaho court system is trying to catch up on a year’s worth of trials and investigations that were put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, Oleson said. He wants to do the Tin Cup investigation right and make sure nothing gets overlooked, but he can’t do that while the investigators are tied up with other cases and legal proceedings are backed up.
Oleson said he hasn’t heard anything new from investigators in several months, but he would look into it more.