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One year anniversary of MHP trooper shooting near Missoula approaches

Posted at 2:50 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 16:50:09-04

It's a time of reflection for the troopers of the Montana Highway Patrol, as they approach the one-year anniversary of nearly losing a brother and colleague.

But a year after the shooting of Trooper Wade Palmer , there's a sense of hope, healing and positive changes.

"They're doing the job every day, regardless of what happened. But it's not something that you forget about,” MHP Sgt. Sean Finley said. “This is something that we live about on a daily basis.

When Finley and his fellow officers rushed Trooper Palmer to a waiting ambulance it was an exclamation point on a terrible night which started with a shooting west of Missoula. Shelly Hayes and Julie Blanchard would die from their injuries.

MHP and Wade's wife Lindsey passed along the good news of his continued rehabilitation on Wednesday.

Wade-Palmer-Feb2020-scaled-e1583860057684.jpg<div class="Figure-credit" itemprop="author">MTN News
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer was ambushed and shot several times near Missoula on March 15, 2019.

"He's walking. Slowly, but he's walking. He's saying some words, very limited words. But he's trying to say more. So those things have increased a lot since day one,” Sgt. Finley said. “The injury that Wade received, the portion that wasn't injured, allows him to have that ability to be Wade."

Finley says as the anniversary of the shooting approaches Sunday, the officers who were there are coping, although it's tough. But there's hope. And procedures have changed, driven by the same mission that night -- public safety.

"They knew the person was a bad person. And they knew we had to find that person. And they did what was expected of them as a state trooper,” Sgt. Finley said. "Is it going to happen again? I bet you that it will; somewhere, someplace. So we learned a lot of things in that respect. We have a plan in place in order to notify more people in a quicker timeframe than this happened."