Missoula and Western Montana | Montana's News Leader®

Bond set at $2M for Missoula, Evaro shootings suspect

MISSOULA – The largest courtroom in the county courthouse was filled to capacity with law enforcement who were on hand to support their brother and colleague and witness the suspect’s first court appearance.

Johnathan Bertsch, 28, of Arlee is facing four felony counts for the shooting spree late last week.

Missoula County 911 received a report of shots fired off of Expressway Boulevard west of Missoula on Thursday night.

When law enforcement arrived on the scene they found Julie and Casey Blanchard unconscious after being shot.

Bertsch Hearing
Law enforcement vehicles lined the street near Missoula County Justice Court on Monday. (Missoula County photo)

A third victim, Shelley Hayes, had also been shot but was deceased when responders arrived.

In court documents, authorities say the three pulled over when the Bertsch flashed his car lights.

Bertsch fled the scene and eventually made his way outside of the Evaro Bar where, according to court documents, he shot trooper Wade Palmer while he was sitting in his patrol car.

Bertsch’s bond has been set at $2 million and he remains in the Missoula County Detention Center.

Bertsch’s next court appearance is set for March 27.


(first report)

MISSOULA – The suspect in a series of shootings on Friday that left one man dead and three more people injured — including a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper — made his initial appearance in Missoula County Justice Court on Monday afternoon.

Johnathan Bertsch, 28, of Arlee faces one count of deliberate homicide for the death of Shelley Hayes, as well as three counts of attempted deliberate homicide, in connection with the shootings.

Bertsch’s bond was set at $2 million.

Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer continues to recover in a Utah hospital after being shot and critically wounded in Evaro on Friday morning.

There was a substantial law enforcement presence in the Missoula courtroom just before was Bertsch is set to appear.


Several fundraising efforts have been launched since Friday to help the victims in the shooting:

You can click here to donate to a GoFundMe page in support of Trooper Palmer.

To help the family of Shelley Hayes, who was killed in one of the shootings, click here. 

To help Casey Blanchard, who was also wounded, click here.

Connor McCauley

Connor McCauley

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