September 12, 2013
SHERMAN TOWNSHIP, Mich.-- A Michigan State Police Trooper was killed Monday night after being shot during a traffic stop in Mason County.
MSP Trooper Paul Butterfield was shot around 6 p.m. near Townline Road and Custer. Witnesses say the gunman and another person inside the Chevy truck drove from the scene.
According to Lt. Chris McIntire from the Michigan State Police, a driver traveling in the area called for help about four minutes after the shooting happened.
Butterfield, who worked out of the Hart MSP Post, died during emergency surgery at Munson Hospital in Traverse City.
"Tonight we lost a hero," says Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP, in a news release. "The entire MSP family, as well as our greater law enforcement family, mourns alongside the Butterfields. Trooper Butterfield's sacrifice will never be forgotten; may he rest in peace."
Around 8:40 p.m., the suspects were tracked at a store near Wellston, in Manistee County, northeast of Ludington. Lt. McIntire says officers exchanged gunfire and wounded the suspect. His injuries are not life threatening. Two suspects, a man and woman were taken into custody.
Family members identify the suspected shooter as Eric Knysz, 19, of Irons. His pregnant wife, Sarah, 21, was also arrested.
At a 10 a.m. news conference, police said they are investigating two different crimes scenes, one where the shooting took place and the other where the two suspects were arrested. There is no time frame on when the suspects will be arraigned or when their names will be officially released.
Police say that it appears Trooper Butterfield did everything right at the traffic stop where the shooting took place.
Trooper Butterfield joined the Michigan State Police in 1999 and had served at the Hart and Manistee posts. He was also a U.S. Army veteran.
Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement Tuesday morning on the death of MSP Trooper Paul Butterfield:
"This senseless incident is a grim reminder that our brave public safety officers put their lives on the line every day when they go to work protecting Michiganders. They are heroes.
"Our hearts break when a Michigan State Police trooper, or any of our other police officers or firefighters, is killed in the line of duty. Their loss is unquestionably felt by their families as well as the communities they serve and our entire state. We realize the extraordinary difficulty of their jobs and the sacrifices they make for us.
"A tragic event like this shakes us all, but it also bolsters our resolve to make our streets and our neighborhoods safer.
"We thank Trooper Butterfield for his bravery, his service and his sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, friends, and colleagues."
Gov. Snyder Tuesday ordered U.S. flags on all state buildings and within the state Capitol Complex to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Trooper Paul Butterfield. Flags should be returned to full-staff after his funeral service.
"It is with a heavy heart that we ask flags to be lowered in honor of a brave man who gave his life in service to others," Snyder said. "We continue to keep Trooper Butterfield's family, friends and colleagues in our thoughts and prayers."
This flag order is in accordance with Executive Order 2006-10. Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations also are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff.
When flown at half-staff or half-mast, the U. S. flag should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff or half-mast position. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
While U.S. flags will be lowered to half-staff on all state buildings and within the state Capitol Complex in honor of Trooper Butterfield, on Wednesday, Sept. 11, they will also be done so in observance of Patriot Day.
Trooper Butterfield is the 51st officer with the Michigan State Police to die in the line of duty since the organization was established in 1917.
In the last 20 years, seven troopers have died while on duty; two of the last three deaths have happened in West Michigan. The most recent death of a Michigan State Police trooper was Jeffrey Werda, who was killed in a rollover crash near Saginaw while responding to a vehicle pursuit in April 2011.
On July 7, 2003, Trooper Kevin Marshall was killed while storming the home of a barricaded gunman near Fremont. The gunman escaped, but was killed in a confrontation with other troopers six days later.
In 2000, Trooper Rick L. Johnson died from injuries he sustained when he was hit by a vehicle during a traffic stop on I-94 in Van Buren County.
The overwhelming cause of deaths involve vehicle crashes or troopers being struck by a vehicle.
The Fallen Memorial Wall in Lansing was built in 2001 to honor each of the fallen trooper's memories, and is similar to the law enforcement memorial in Washington D.C. It sits on the state police training grounds. The names of all 50 troopers have been engraved in the slanting face of the wall.
Butterfield will be the 51st name on the memorial. WZZM 13 spoke with one Alpena trooper who said he doesn't need to know the trooper to be impacted.
"This is nice, especially for the families. I've stopped by, and look at the names there and know that they're respected and that's huge," said Chuck Collier of the MSP Alpena Post.
Funeral arrangements have not been set for Butterfield, but an MSP spokesman said it would be a significant funeral and troopers from across the country will likely attend.