BILLINGS — Authorities on Tuesday released the name of a 16-year-old boy who was found shot dead at a Billings hotel.
Jeffrey William Whitewolf of Hardin died from a gunshot wound to 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 they are investigating the teen’s death as suspicious.
About two hours before the body was found, police were called to a location near Swords Lane where they found a 20-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the leg. Police say the man and Whitewolf have been known to associate, but police have yet to identify the man as a possible suspect.
Whitewolf was remembered as a funny, humble kid who loved the outdoors by Barry Bement, who has been lifelong friends with Whitewolf’s older brother.
“I saw him from time to time, you know what I mean? But every time I saw him, he was always cracking jokes and saying funny things. He was a humble child. He was a good boy. He had an outgoing personality. Every time I saw him, he always made 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 hadn’t spoken with his old friend in about a year.
“It’s very shocking, very tragic. In terms of my condition, I’m here in Bozeman and it’s had an effect on me. Murder and crime, it’s nothing new to me. I feel for his family. I feel for his brother. The pain of the loss is probably unbearable,” Bement said.
Bement said Whitewolf’s death brings attention to the issue of gun violence on and off the reservation.
“It’s something that needs to be addressed though, it’s gun violence. I feel like gun violence has a major impact on crime on the reserve as well as off the reserve. But I know it was very shocking for everyone in our community and especially for all the kids his age,” Bement said.
RELATED: Billings Police are investigating the suspicious death of a teenager at the Heights Hotel