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1 victim dies in Missoula shooting, suspect charged with multiple felonies

Johnathan Bertsch faces one count of deliberate homicide and three more counts of attempted deliberate homicide, all felonies, in the shootings.

MISSOULA – One of the victims injured in a series of shootings on Thursday night and Friday morning has died, according to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

Johnathan Bertsch faces one count of deliberate homicide and three more counts of attempted deliberate homicide, all felonies, in the shootings.

Missoula Police received the initial call shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday night with reports of gunfire with three people shot near the Stone Creek Lodge at Expressway in Missoula.

According to MCSO, a male victim, identified as Shelley Hays died from his injuries. Julie and Casey Blanchard were injured in the attack.

Bertsch, the suspect, fled the scene and led multiple agencies on a seven-hour manhunt along US Highway 93 North.

Early Friday morning near the Evaro Bar and Casino Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer located a suspected vehicle matching the description of the person involved in a Missoula shooting before midnight.

Missoula units set up a perimeter and warned area residents to lock their doors and that a suspect was at large.

Within moments, a second shooting was reported near Evaro Bar and Casino where Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer located a vehicle matching the description.

Palmer was ambushed and shot in his patrol car. Trooper Alex Hiday, who was the next officer to arrive on the scene, found Palmer still seatbelted in his vehicle.

The suspect again fled the scene and after an extensive manhunt, at approximately 6:15 a.m., sheriff’s deputies took Bertsch into custody without incident.

Palmer was immediately transported to St. Patrick Hospital where he was listed as being in critical condition. He has since been airlifted to Salt Lake City, according to MHP.

MHP said Friday afternoon that a GoFundMe page has been established for Palmer and his family. You can click here to donate. 

Correction: An early version of this story had the deceased victim’s name misspelled. 

MTN News

MTN News

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