Montana trooper airlifted to Salt Lake City after Missoula shooting


EVARO, Mont. – A Montana Highway Patrol trooper is in critical condition after he was shot near the Evaro Bar and Casino on Friday morning.

Evaro is about three hours away from Spokane.

Palmer was shot while searching for the suspect in a Missoula shooting before midnight on Friday, according to highway patrol. Another trooper then found Trooper Wade Palmer still seat-belted in his patrol car after he was shot. The suspect had fled the scene.

Palmer was in critical condition at St. Patrick Hospital, according to the highway patrol. On Friday afternoon, he was airlifted to Salt Lake City.

Palmer worked for Montana Highway Patrol since 2012 and is stationed in Missoula. In 2015, he was awarded the Medal of Valor for his life-saving efforts at the scene of a multi-vehicle crash involving a mom and her young children in December 2014.

Palmer has a wife and two young children, according to the highway patrol.

The suspect in the shooting, identified as Johnathan Bertsch, was taken into custody by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Response Team at about 6:15 a.m. on Friday, according to a Facebook post. The sheriff’s office is not looking to find any other suspects.

“Please keep the Montana Highway Patrol Trooper who sustained injures this morning in your thoughts and prayers,” the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook.

According to highway patrol, residents in the Evaro area were originally told that the suspect was considered armed and dangerous and that they should not approach him. Residents were also told to lock their doors and report suspicious activity to 911.

According to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, highways in the area may not reopen soon due to an ongoing investigation.