Kalispell convict sentenced to more than 3 years in prison for firearms possession

Nov. 8—A convicted felon the Flathead County Sheriff's Office once deemed "armed and extremely dangerous" was sentenced to 37 months in prison in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Tuesday.

Jose Angel Estrello, 40, of Kalispell, pleaded guilty in June to a charge of prohibited person in possession of firearms and ammunition. A federal grand jury handed up the indictment in February as Estrello faced two separate firearm-related felony assault with a weapon cases in Flathead County District Court.

According to court documents, the federal charge spun out of Estrello's local legal problems.

In July 2022, deputies came across Estrello while responding to McMannamy Draw for a report of gunshots, court documents said. During the ensuing conversation, Estrello allegedly acted hostile and referred to retrieving an AR-15-style rifle to defend himself from law enforcement.

A day later, deputies headed to Tally Lake Campground after a motorist allegedly pulled a gun out during a parking dispute. The victims gave investigators photographs of the Chevrolet Equinox driven by the gun-wielding man, which led deputies back to Estrello, court documents said.

Estrello was later linked to a road rage incident involving a gun between Whitefish and Kalispell, according to court documents. He allegedly pulled parallel with another vehicle and aimed a handgun at the family inside on July 22, 2022. After the victims let the armed motorist drive off, they took down the license plate and gave it to investigators. The plate came back registered to Estrello, court documents said.

Although initially maintaining his innocence, Estrello reached a deal with prosecutors just days after the federal indictment was dropped. He pleaded guilty to one count of assault with a weapon by way of an Alford plea Feb. 24 and earned a five-year stint in Montana State Prison in April.

According to documents filed in federal court, deputies searched Estrello's home in August 2022, finding 10 firearms, seven magazines and assorted ammunition. Estrello boasted three prior felony convictions at the time, including two for robbery in California, according to court documents. Those convictions left him prohibited from possessing firearms.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case alongside the Sheriff's Office, officials said.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy presided over the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Clark.