Woman, police exchange gunfire in Bigfork

by Scott Shindledecker
| March 25, 2020 8:00 AM

A woman accused of exchanging gunfire with Flathead Valley law officers Tuesday morning in Bigfork has a prior record of assault with a weapon.

Awndray Lynn Francisco, 44, of Kalispell, allegedly led authorities on a miles-long, high-speed chase after they say she stole a work truck from a hotel parking lot near Glacier Park International Airport at about 7:17 a.m. Tuesday.

Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino said officers from his department, along with Kalispell Police and Montana Highway Patrol, first saw the vehicle near the intersection of Conrad Drive and Anderson Lane and pursued the truck to Bigfork where they stopped it on Grand Avenue in Bigfork, just below the Bigfork Public Schools campus.

When officers attempted to speak with the woman, later identified as Francisco, gunfire erupted.

After it stopped, officers got her out of the truck and medical personnel checked her for injuries.

Neither she nor officers were injured in the gun battle.

Heino said the investigation has not yet indicated if she fired first or what type of gun she allegedly used.

Law officers blocked off an area on Grand Drive where the incident occurred and crime scene investigators with the Sheriff’s Office later marked the location of shell casings and other possible evidence.

“I’m just glad no one got hurt,” Heino said.

Court records indicate Francisco has had previous charges for assault with a weapon and writing bad checks.

In 2005, Francisco faced two separate felony charges on the aforementioned incidents.

On the assault charge, in which no details were available, Francicso pleaded guilty to criminal endangerment. She received a 5-year suspended sentence.

On the bad check charge, she pleaded guilty to writing dozens of bad checks to various businesses, including bars and casinos, in the Flathead and in Missoula. She received a 6-year deferred sentence for that offense.

Francisco was ordered to pay $7,270.62 in restitution. Part of her sentence was that she was not allowed to gamble or be in casinos, have a credit card or have a checking account.

Francisco was also ordered to not drink or alcohol or do drugs and had to attend a support group.