mhp trooper wade palmer shot

Wade Palmer (MHP photo)

MISSOULA - The Montana Highway Patrol released the name of a trooper shot and injured in an early morning manhunt.

MHP says Trooper Wade Palmer was shot early Friday morning near the Evaro Bar and Casino. 

Palmer was originally treated at St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula. Friday afternoon, the Montana Attorney General's Office said Palmer was being transferred to Salt Lake City for treatment. Attorney General Tim Fox is reportedly en route as well. 

The suspect, Johnathan Bertsch, 28, reportedly shot at three people on Expressway in Missoula before taking off for Evaro.


Bertsch was booked in the Missoula County Jail Friday afternoon. He's being held on one count of felony deliberate homicide and three counts of felony attempted deliberate homicide, according to Chief Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks. 

MHP said Trooper Palmer found Bertsch near the Evaro Bar and Casino. 

The next responding officer found Palmer, still seat-belted in his vehicle, and suffering from a gunshot wound. 

Bertsch is expected to appear in court on Monday.

A GoFundMe page for Trooper Palmer has been set up. Click here for more information.

wade palmer 2014 award

File photo: Wade Palmer receives Medal of Valor after rescuing woman in Dec. 2014

From the press release:

NEWS RELEASE: 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 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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