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Second murder charge filed against suspect involved in Missoula shootings

Johnathan Bertsch
Posted at 5:12 PM, Dec 31, 2019

MISSOULA — A second murder charge has been filed against a man involved in a March shooting that left two people dead and two with severe injuries.

Missoula County prosecutors filed a deliberate homicide charge against defendant Johnathan Bertsch in the death of victim Julie Blanchard on Tuesday in Missoula District Court.

Blanchard, 52, died from her injuries in a Washington State hospital on June 3.

Bertsch is now charged with two counts of deliberate homicide for the deaths of Blanchard and Shelley Hays.

He's also charged with attempted deliberate homicide in the shootings of Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer and Julie's son, Casey Blanchard.

Julie, Casey and Shelley were shot on March 14 off Expressway Boulevard when they pulled over after noticing a vehicle behind them had their flashing lights on.

That's when prosecutors say Bertsch opened fire on them.

Shelley Hays died on the scene while both Casey and Julie Blanchard were transported to the hospital with gunshot wounds.

Bertsch was later arrested near Evaro accused of shooting Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer.

Both Casey and Trooper Palmer continue their recovery at their Stevensville homes.

A trial date for Bertsch has been set for August 2020 in Missoula County.