For about two hours on Thursday morning, Stockman Bank on Brooks in Missoula was the safest place in Montana.

Nearly 100 members of various law enforcement agencies gathered to honor the troopers, deputies and police officers who were first to respond to the tragic incidents that occurred on March 14th and 15th, 2019 when Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer was shot multiple times.

At the first incident on Airway Boulevard, Shelly Hayes was killed at the scene while Casey Blanchard and his mother Julie were gravely wounded by fire from the suspect Jonathan Bertsch.

Not long after, Trooper Wade Palmer reported being hit multiple times near the Evaro Bar.

Law enforcement response was swift and massive with the Montana Highway Patrol, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, CSKT Tribal Police and Missoula Police officers all responding, along with EMS to aid Trooper Palmer.

Following the ceremony where over a dozen troopers, deputies and police offers received various awards for bravery and service, Montana Highway Patrol Commander, Colonel Tom Butler said the ceremony was an honor to host.

“Anytime there’s an event like the Wade Palmer shooting, or any significant event where law enforcement is injured, first of all, the community support we saw in this incident was great,” said Col. Butler. “I also think it’s important for all lots of the people who were involved in this to be recognized for the heroic work that was done. It’s important for law enforcement to be recognized and for the public to see the work they’re doing, so it’s just a great thing all the way around.”

Butler lamented the fact that there are more violent incidents occurring throughout the state.

“Unfortunately here in Montana our law enforcement is being thrown into these incidents more and more often and it’s become more commonplace by the violence that is occurring,” he said. “This ceremony allows a little bit of closure for those involved to help them put the incidents behind them and be recognized for the great work that they did.”

Butler looked back at the moments after he received word of Trooper Palmer’s devastating wounds at the hands of a gunman who had allegedly already killed one person and wounded two others.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” he said. “It’s something that anyone who was involved in what happened that night will never forget. We’ll take those experiences with us for the rest of our lives. I am sensitive to all the law enforcement agencies, and as long as I’ve been chief, we always recognize people for the great work that they do, because some of the things that went on that night were truly heroic. Nobody stopped or slowed down that night. Law enforcement as a whole, when others are running from an event, we are always running to it to sort it all out. In the Palmer incident, nearly every law enforcement agency was represented there and they did great work.”

Following, find a list of those who received awards on Thursday:

Trooper Alex Hiday  MHP Award of Valor

Trooper Alex Hiday  MHP HEDSTROM Award 14 March 2019

Trooper Alex Hiday  MHP HEDSTROM Award 20 March 2019

Trooper Robert Strauch MHP Award of Valor

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Officer T. J. Haynes  Montana Attorney General’s Award of Commendation

Missoula City Police Officer Brian Gorman Montana Attorney General’s Award of Commendation

Missoula City Police Officer Ken Smith Montana Attorney General’s Award of Commendation

Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Volinkaty Montana Attorney General’s Award of Commendation

Sergeant Sean Finley Montana Attorney General’s Award of Commendation


More From Alt 95.7