Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • On June 3, 2009, a 17 year old Helena boy shot and killed fellow teenager Cory Andrewski and injured Kahner Leary and Joey Wohlers. Sebastian Walter Olivares-Coster was sentenced to three life sentences for this crime, the motive remaining unexplained.

    The incident occurred on a popular teenage hang-out, a hill on the outskirts of town. I visited this hill in 2009, shortly after the shooting, 2011 and again in 2012, sadly on the same day as the Aurora massacre. This is where I took the photograph you see above.

    This murder moved me strangely, even though it was in a town I visit infrequently and my own home town, St. Louis, is notorious for its high murder rate. People have been killed in large numbers only a few miles to the east and north of me, so much so that many murders, particularly those in the poor African-American communities, rarely get much attention in the local press.

    Perhaps then, this murder in a low crime area high in the mountains of Montana, touched me because it stood out in stark contrast to the normal state of affairs. Or perhaps it hit me because it occurred only a few hundred yards away from our friend's house on the slopes overlooking Helena, a house associated with happy memories. Mostly, I think, it moved me because of this memorial put together by friends of the victim, that, like so many roadside accident crosses, personalized the crime in a way that a gravestone in a cemetery does not.

    What madness drove Olivares-Coster to take a gun and shoot down these young people? A second to pull a trigger and a life is ended. What millisecond of thought fills the mind of a murderer as the bullet leaves the barrel and travels into a body, lead splaying out and shredding muscle, bone, vessel and organ?

    Questions I cannot answer.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.