Wounded Montana trooper remains in coma at University of Utah Hospital; wife describes his condition as ‘extremely critical’

Highway Patrol Troopers from Montana and Utah wait outside the hospital room of MHP Trooper Wade Palmer (right). Photos: MHP

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 20, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The Montana Highway Patrol Trooper who was airlifted to University of Utah Hospital Friday was shot three times, according to a new statement posted by his wife on social media.

Trooper Wade Palmer, 35, was investigating the vehicle of a man wanted in connection with the shooting of three people late Thursday at a bar on Route 93 outside Missoula, Montana. One person was killed in the shooting and two others were critically wounded.

Moments after discovering the suspect’s vehicle Palmer himself was shot. When backup arrived, they found Palmer unconscious and bleeding, and the suspect’s vehicle was gone.

Palmer’s wife, Lindsey, revealed Wednesday that her husband was shot in the head, face and neck. She said he was stable, “but his condition is still considered extremely critical.

“He remains in a medically induced coma at a Utah hospital,” Lindsey wrote. “He has not regained consciousness since the shooting on Friday. Due to the nature and extent of his injuries, it may be some time before we know more about his prognosis.

“The family asks for the public’s patience and for their understanding that updates will not necessarily be available on a daily basis. We will keep everyone updated as appropriate via the Highway Patrol and Department of Justice.

“We remain cautiously optimistic that Wade will continue to see steady improvements. We recognize, however, that the overall understanding of these improvements and what they mean in the long run is still evolving and unknown at this time. We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers for Wade and for us.”

Trooper Alex Hiday, who was next on the scene after Palmer was shot, found his fellow officer still seat-belted in the patrol car, according to a statement by Montana Highway Patrol.

The suspected shooter, Johnathan Bertsch, 29, was taken into police custody hours later. He’s been charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with both incidents in Montana.

Montana Highway Patrol Chief Tom Butler also released a statement about Palmer’s case, targeting those who spread rumors about the wounded trooper’s condition and prognosis.

“There have been some false rumors circulating about Trooper Palmer’s condition,” Butler wrote. “While we understand that the chatter can arise from a place of genuine concern and goodwill, please understand that when Wade’s friends and relatives see misinformation posted about his condition, it is very upsetting, especially when they have to take the time and energy to dispel the rumors.

“With that in mind, please do not circulate or repeat a rumor or information about Trooper Palmer unless it has been verified by the Montana Highway Patrol or Department of Justice.

“The Highway Patrol has been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement seen in recent days,” Butler added. “It is clear the silent majority supports their law enforcement officers. Please continue to keep Trooper Palmer and the Missoula shooting victims in your thoughts and prayers.”


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