NewsCrime Watch


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

Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-16 00:36:25-04

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

According to the sheriff’s office, the man, identified as Shelley Hays, died from his injuries.  Two others, Julie and Casey Blanchard, were injured in the attack.

Shelly Hays

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

Related: Montana Highway Patrol Trooper airlifted to Salt Lake City

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

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

Johnathan Bertsch. courtesy of Missoula County.

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 Palmer found 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. 

Additional fundraising pages have been established for other victims in the attacks. One has been created for Casey Blanchard, who was injured in the shooting.

Another GoFundMe page has also been created for Hays, who died in the shooting.