Three people, including a state trooper, are injured and one person is dead following two separate but related road rage shootings in Montana, MSN is reporting.
Johnathan Bertsch, 28, has been arrested and charged with one count of deliberate homicide and three counts of attempted deliberate homicide following the Thursday incident.
As The Missoulian reports, Julie Blanchard and her two passengers, her son Casey Blanchard and a woman named Shelley Hays, left a Missoula-area bar late Thursday night when they noticed that they were being followed. Specifically, she alleged that the driver of a white Cadillac Escalade flashed his lights at her and followed her down the road to a nearby auto dealership. She would later tell police that she thought the driver needed help so she pulled over.
According to police reports, Casey left the truck moments before shots were fired, for reasons that remain unclear. Then, the driver, identified as Bertsch, allegedly began firing. Surveillance camera footage from the scene shows the gunman firing a handgun at the three victims.
When Missoula police arrived on the scene, they found Blanchard in her pickup truck, conscious but having suffered a gunshot wound. Casey had also been shot but was conscious. Shelley Hayes was in the back seat of the pickup truck, dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
Charging documents say that in a phone call to his father, Johnathan Bertsch told him “I had a road rage incident… I think I might have shot a cop”. I’ll have more on how the shooting unfolded coming up on @NBCMontana at 6. #mtnews pic.twitter.com/JSyEQsLDjT
— Olivia Iverson – NBC Montana (@OliviaNBCMT) March 15, 2019
The two injured individuals were taken to area hospitals. Their conditions, as of this writing, are unclear.
Meanwhile, about an hour later, Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer radioed in to dispatch that he had been shot, allegedly by Bertsch. When backup arrived, they found Palmer, 35, still buckled into his seat in his squad car, suffering life-threatening gunshot wounds. He was taken to a Missoula hospital and then later airlifted to a Salt Lake City hospital. His condition, as of this writing, remains unclear.
About four hours later, a neighbor called 911 to report a vehicle matching the description of the one used in the alleged shootings parked nearby. Police arrived and arrested Johnathan Bertsch without further incident.
Bertsch’s father, Burton Bertsch, may have helped police find his son. Located at an area casino, Burton said that his son had called him on his cell phone, allegedly admitting to his crimes.
“I had a road rage incident…. I think I might have shot a cop.”
As of this writing, Johnathan Bertsch’s motives for the alleged shootings remain unclear. He is currently being held without bail and is expected to make a preliminary court appearance on Monday.