By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT
The Missoulian editor suspended last week after a newsroom employee saw him with a concealed weapon at the office said in a Facebook post that he’s routinely threatened on the job and wears a gun as a result.
Matt Bunk, who was hired as the newspaper’s editor late last year, was suspended until further notice last week. Carrying a firearm on company property is a violation of Lee Enterprise’s corporate policy.
Bunk didn’t respond Monday to requests seeking comment.
In a weekend Facebook post, however, Bunk said he went to the office and “accidentally forgot” to leave his pistol in his car.
“The implication that I carry a gun for anything other than self defense is absurd,” Bunk wrote. “I routinely get threatened with violence due to my job, and a couple years ago decided to get a concealed carry permit to keep my loved ones and myself safe.”
Bunk said the issue began when someone at the office saw his holstered weapon. He said he immediately returned the firearm to his car.
Bunk later apologized on Facebook “for the commotion that my mistake caused, and to Lee Enterprises for breaking policy.”
Bunk isn’t the first Lee editor in Montana to get suspended for bringing a gun to the office. In 1999, Charles Wood, editor of the Helena Independent Record, brought a .22-caliber pistol to the office.
Wood was dismissed from the position. The company named Dave Shors acting editor but made no formal announcement regarding Wood’s departure.
Missoulian Publisher Mark Heintzelman hired Bunk from a twice-weekly paper in Libby late last year after demoting veteran reporter and editor Sherry Devlin for undisclosed reasons.
Devlin has since filed a lawsuit in District Court alleging she was unfairly removed from the job and replaced with a less experienced male.
In an email to employees, Heintzelman said he would be out of the office until April 11, adding that employees with the Billings Gazette would provide assistance to the Missoulian product.
Billings Gazette publisher Mike Gulledge was at the Missoulian on Monday. He didn’t return a request for comment.
The Missoulian’s city editor, Justin Grigg, gave notice last month that he was leaving the Missoulian. He becomes the fourth member of paper’s newsroom to leave since Bunk was named editor.
(Disclosure: Martin Kidston is a former Missoulian reporter who left the paper in January).