MISSOULA – It’s a bond only those in local law enforcement can explain. When tragedy hits close to home, it’s the overwhelming amount of support that brings them together.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers across the state gathered at the Missoula County Courthouse Monday to back their brother, Trooper Wade Palmer, who is currently fighting for his life after being critically wounded in a Friday shooting near Missoula.
Jonathan Bertsch made his initial appearance in Missoula County Justice Court Monday afternoon and a judge set his bond at $2 million.
Bertsch faces one count of deliberate homicide for the death of Shelley Hayes, as well as three counts of attempted deliberate homicide in connection with the Friday shootings.
Montana Highway Patrol troopers, Missoula County Sheriff’s deputies, and multiple other law enforcement agencies filed into the courtroom.
“It’s just been very difficult,” said MHP Trooper Chad Dever. “Wade is an amazing family man, a friend and a trooper. It’s just been really rough. All we can do is pray. He’s a fighters and he’s fighting as expected, so we are just praying for him.”
As the Utah officers stand outside Trooper Palmer’s hospital room in Salt Lake City, Montana law enforcement stood in the Missoula courtroom in a show of solidarity.
“We are a big family and when this happens, even though Trooper Palmer works for Highway Patrol, we have his back and we’re here to support him and his family through this horrific ordeal,” said Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott.
It’s a bond beyond borders. When the Utah Highway Patrol heard Palmer was airlifted to Salt Lake City, they didn’t hesitate to step in to help.
Dever added the amount of support was no surprise.
“To be honest, we are all very close. It’s just they are like our brothers and sisters down there and they are treating us the same,” Dever said. “We just really appreciate it.”
Several fundraising efforts have been launched to help the shooting victims:
Click here to donate to a GoFundMe in support of Trooper Wade Palmer.
Click here to donate to the family of Shelley Hayes, who died in one of the shootings.
Click here to help Casey Blanchard, who was also wounded.
-Reported by Kent Luetzen/MTN News
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