BILLINGS — Authorities on Tuesday released the name of a 16-year-old boy who was found shot to death inside a Billings hotel.
Jeffrey William Whitewolf of Hardin died from a gunshot wound of the head, the Yellowstone County Coroner’s Office said.
Whitewolf’s body was found early Sunday morning inside the Country Inn and Suites on Main Street in the Heights. The Billings Police Department said it is investigating the teen’s death as suspicious.
About two hours before the body was found, police were called to a nearby location on Swords Lane where they found a 20-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. Police said the man and Whitewolf were known to associate with each other, but police have yet to identify the man as a possible suspect.
Whitewolf was remembered as a funny and humble kid who loved the outdoors by Barry Bement, who has been lifelong friends with Whitewolf’s older brother.
“I would see him around every now and again, you know what I mean? But every time I’ve seen him, he was always cracking jokes and saying funny things. He was a humble kid. He was a good kid. He had an outgoing personality. Every time I would see him, he would always make me laugh,” Bement said.
Bement now lives in Bozeman but grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation with Whitewolf and his brother. Bement said he hasn’t talked with his old friend in about one year.
“It’s very shocking, very tragic. As far as how I am, I’m all the way up here in Bozeman and it’s had an effect on me. Murder and crime, it’s nothing that’s new to me. I feel for his family. I feel for his brother. The pain from the loss is probably unbearable,” Bement said.
Bement said Whitewolf’s death brings attention to the issue of gun violence both on and off the reservation.
“It’s something that needs to be addressed though, is gun violence. I feel like gun violence has a major impact on crime on the reservation as well as off the reservation. But I know that it was very shocking for everybody in our community and especially all the kids his age.” Bement said.
RELATED: Billings police investigate suspicious death of teen at Heights hotel