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Hitchhiker gets bullet instead of kindness

A West Virginia man who told authorities he was hitchhiking across the country and writing a memoir about kindness was injured in a seemingly random drive-by shooting near Montana's booming Bakken oil patch.

Ray Dolin, 39, was shot in the arm as he approached a pickup Saturday evening, thinking the driver was offering him a ride, said Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier.

"He was sitting down to have a little lunch and this guy drives up. He thought he was going to give him a ride, and as he approached the vehicle, the guy pulls out his weapon and shoots him," Meier said.

The shooting took place about three miles west of the town of Glasgow, along rural U.S. Highway 2, a major route into and out of the oil patch.

A suspect, Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, 52, of Washington state was arrested about four hours later near Culbertson. Authorities said he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They released no motive in the shooting.

Danielson was apparently headed to Williston, N.D., for work tied to the oil boom.

The shooting follows another random attack in which a popular 43-year-old teacher from the oil patch town of Sidney was allegedly kidnapped and killed by two Colorado men on their way to the oil patch.

As the men await trial in the murder of teacher Sherry Arnold, the case has stoked worries that a once-quiet corner of Montana has been irreversibly altered by the oil boom. Crime rates across western North Dakota and eastern Montana have spiked as thousands of workers flock to a region that has become one of the top-oil producing areas of the country.

But Meier said Danielson's quick arrest by deputies in Roosevelt County 100 miles away from the shooting shows law enforcement is keeping up with the changes.

"We're still the wonderful people in Montana we've always been, and we'll get through this," Meier said. "Things are going to happen whether there's the Bakken or not."

Meier did not know if any words were exchanged between the alleged shooter and victim before Dolin was shot. He said they did not know one another.

Dolin was being treated at Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital in Glasgow.

A nurse said Monday he was not taking calls or accepting messages.

Dolin had told sheriff's officials that he was writing a memoir titled "Kindness in America."

Dolin left West Virginia last week bound for Washington state, his father Melvin Dolin said. He took a bus to the edge of Montana and intended to work his way to Washington from there, the father said.