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Montana Highway Patrol trooper shot near Missoula continues to recover

Posted at 9:04 AM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 17:59:55-04


HELENA – The Montana Highway Patrol trooper who was shot several times last month is continuing his recovery in a Utah hospital.

Trooper Wade Palmer continues to receive medical treatment at University Hospital in Salt Lake City.

According to a press release issued Tuesday, Palmer is showing indications that he recognizes certain people and things. However, all of his interactions remain non-verbal.

Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes said Palmer continues to interact with hand gestures and facial expressions, but the extent of how much he understands remains unknown.

Palmer, 35, continues to undergo physical therapy to strengthen his left arm and leg, and limited movement has been detected on his right side, according to Barnes.

Palmer is scheduled to have the wiring and screws from his reconstructive jaw surgery removed this week.

“The tasks that you or I take for granted have become much more significant for Wade,” said Col. Tom Butler, chief of the Montana Highway Patrol. “His brain is becoming more aware of the sensory input and is relearning how to connect the dots, so to speak.”

Palmer was shot in the neck, face, and head after locating the suspect involved in an earlier shooting that injured two and killed one in Missoula on March 15.

He was transported to Saint Patrick Hospital in critical condition and eventually flown to Salt Lake City.

Palmer shot by Johnathan Bertsch, prosecutors say. Bertsch is facing one count of deliberate homicide for the death of Shelley Hayes and three counts of attempted deliberate homicide for shooting Palmer and two others.

The Montana Highway Patrol has created a webpage with information about the shooting.