Montana State Trooper Critical After Shooting

One person was killed, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper was in critical condition and two others were hospitalized after a shooting spree in Missoula and Evaro that resulted in the arrest of one suspect.

Trooper Wade Palmer, who was flown Friday afternoon to Salt Lake City for treatment, was shot in his patrol car after he found the suspect’s car near the Evaro Bar and Casino early Friday morning.

When a second trooper arrived at the scene, he found Palmer still belted into his patrol car; the suspect had fled, said a release from the Highway Patrol.

Three people had been shot an hour earlier as they were leaving Marvin’s Bar at the Wye, just west of Missoula. Shelley Hays, who had been sitting in the back of the pickup truck, was found dead when authorities arrived, according to court documents. Julie Blanchard, who was driving the pickup, and her son Casey Blanchard, were wounded and taken to St. Patrick Hospital.

GoFundMe page was started Friday for Hays, who the page said “left behind his 6 Year old daughter, his family, his girlfriend and his many friends.”

Johnathan Bertsch, the suspected shooter, was taken into custody in the 16000 block of Thornburg Way south of Evaro at about 6:15 a.m. without incident, according to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

Bertsch was booked into the Missoula County Detention Facility at about 1:15 p.m. on Friday. Hours later, Missoula County Attorney’s Office filed four charges against him: one count of deliberate homicide and three counts of attempted deliberate homicide.

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