MISSOULA, Mont. — Hundreds of law enforcement personnel from across the state of Montana gathered on Monday to support Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer, who was shot and injured while searching for a suspect last week.
Palmer was shot while searching for the suspect in a Missoula shooting, according to highway patrol. Another trooper then found Palmer still seat-belted in his patrol car after he was shot. The suspect, later dentified as Johnathan Bertsch, had fled the scene.
Palmer worked for Montana Highway Patrol since 2012 and is stationed in Missoula. In 2015, he was awarded the Medal of Valor for his life-saving efforts at the scene of a multi-vehicle crash involving a mom and her young children in December 2014.
Palmer has a wife and two young children, according to the highway patrol.
Palmer is currently in critical condition and receiving treatment in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah officers are standing outside of Palmer's hospital room.
Chad Dever with Montana Highway Patrol told KPAX-TV that the amount of support in Utah is appreciated but not a surprise.
"To be honest, we are all very close. It’s just...they are like our brothers and sisters down there and they are treating us the same. We just really appreciate it," Dever added.
Montana officers showed their support back home at Bertsch's initial hearing. Law enforcement personnel from Montana Highway Patrol, the Missoula County Sheriff's Office, Missoula Police Department, Lake County and Ravalli County were in the courtroom on Monday.
"It's just been very difficult. Wade is an amazing family man, a friend and a trooper. It's just been really rough. All we can do is pray," Dever said. "He's a fighter and he's fighting as expected, so we are just praying for him.
Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott also expressed the agency's support for Palmer and his family.
"We are a big family and when this happens – even though Trooper Palmer works for Highway Patrol – we have his back and we're here to support him and his family through this horrific ordeal," McDermott told KPAX-TV.
The Missoula County Sheriff's Office posted about Bertsch's hearing on Facebook.
"With many people hurting, it was a powerful scene to witness. Officers from Montana Highway Patrol, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, Missoula Police Department, Lake County and Ravalli County were all there to support the victims of this senseless act," the sheriff's office wrote.
"A huge thank you to the community members who have reached out to support all law enforcement and pray for those who have been affected. Your support is so needed and so appreciated. Please continue to keep these people in your thoughts," the Facebook post continues.
Bertsch's bail was set at $2 million on Monday.
Those interested in helping Palmer and two other victims in last week's shooting can visit GoFundMe pages and Facebook fundraisers, according to law enforcement.
A GoFundMe page is up and running in support of Palmer.
Those who wish to help the family of Shelley Hayes, who was killed in one of the shootings, can do so via GoFundMe.
A Facebook fundraiser has also been set up in support of Casey Blanchard, who was wounded in the shooting.