BOZEMAN- On Friday, June 14, MSU athletes are competing against highway patrol officers in a special game of softball to support a patrol trooper who was shot and injured on the job.
The March shooting of Missoula Trooper Wade Palmer drew support and concern from across the state, especially for troopers and first responders.
Gallatin County first responders are gathering to support the trooper by playing softball against MSU athletes for the Bobcat Summer Classic.
Sgt. McLaughlin with Montana Highway Patrol says everyone in his department is affected. Trooper Palmer was shot three times in the head and neck while sitting in his patrol vehicle; the suspect is jailed in Missoula County.
“Anytime a fellow officer gets hurt or dies, especially one that’s close in relative proximity or in our own agency, it affects all of us,” says Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Patrick McLaughlin said. “It makes you think about what’s going out on the road, maybe think twice about that vehicle you’re pulling over, and so it really does have a profound effect on all of us.”
McLaughlin went on to say they are a family and several members of the Bozeman division went to the academy with Palmer.
“We get a lot of people to come to talk to us, folks that normally wouldn’t want to talk to law enforcement, and just tell us they are about Trooper Palmer and his family, and they’re thinking about us on a daily basis,” Mclaughlin said. “That’s amazing. It’s something that warms your heart to have people come up and talk to you like that.”
The softball game includes a raffle to benefit Trooper Palmer and his family. Raffle items include an autographed MSU football.
The event will be taking place at Heroes Park, Friday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m. in Bozeman.
McLaughlin added that at last year's game, the athletes let them win until about halftime and then, he jokes, it got "pretty ugly."
Regardless, he’s looking forward to this year’s game and all the good it will do for the Palmer family as they start down the long road towards recovery.