Missoula, MN-A suspect was in custody Friday after a Montana HIghway Patrol officer was shot near Evaro Hill as police were searching for a suspect in a related shooting in Missoula that injured three people, according to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Officer and the Missoula Police Department.
Johnathan Bertsch was taken into custody in the 16000 block of Thornburg Way at about 6:15 a.m.
The incident occurred around 11 p.m. on Thursday when the Missoula Police Department investigated shots fired at a car on Expressway near the Lithia Auto Dealership. Three people were in the vehicle, two men and a women, who were all taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds. Their conditions are unknown.
Around midnight, shots were reported near Evaro Hill. A large manhunt which included multiple agencies was underway. Officials were searching for a man driving a white SUV, and believed to be armed with an AR-15 and a .45.
According to a 2009 Missoulian article, then-18-year-old Bertsch allegedly fled police after stealing gas and, at the end of a pursuit, rammed his car into a law enforcement officer’s patrol car, and attempted to gun the vehicle for the officer as well.
The DoJ news release reports this morning's incident this way:
"Early in the morning of March 15, near the Evaro Bar and Casino, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer located a suspected vehicle matching the description of one involved in a Missoula shooting before midnight. Trooper Alex Hiday was the next officer to arrive on scene. Hiday found Palmer still seat-belted in his patrol car and that he had been shot. The suspect had fled the scene. Hiday and a Missoula Police Department officer transported Palmer to an ambulance at the intersection of Highway 93 and Interstate 90. Palmer is in critical condition at St. Patrick Hospital. After an extensive manhunt, at approximately 6:15am the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office took the suspect, Jonathan Bertsch, into custody without incident. The Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the shooting incident. Palmer has been with the Patrol since 2012. He is stationed in Detachment 112 in Missoula. In 2015, he was awarded the Patrol’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor, for his heroic lifesaving efforts at the scene of a multiple-vehicle crash involving a mother and her young children in December 2014. Trooper Palmer has a wife and two young children."
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