NewsCrime and Courts


More evidence discovered in Missoula shooting suspect's case

Posted at 7:02 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 23:24:14-04

MISSOULA — Johnathan Bertsch of Arlee is accused of shooting Shelley Hays, Julie Blanchard, and Casey Blanchard on the night of March 14. Then about 90 minutes after shooting the three victims, he then allegedly shot Trooper Wade Palmer on Evaro Hill.

Shelley Hays was dead before police arrived at the crime scene. Julie Blanchard died from her injuries three months later.

Even though the coroner at the hospital where Julie died confirmed that her deaths were from her gunshot wounds, Bertsch is still only being charged for the murder of Hays and three attempted murders.

While police were searching for Bertsch, court documents say he called his dad and admitted to the shooting. During his court appearance on Thursday, it was revealed that while police were searching for him, he was making online posts that admitted to what he had done.

A search warrant was filed in March to look through Bertsch’s home. During that search, investigators learned that Bertsch had posted to an anonymous chat board.

Two of the posts were made on the day of the shooting. His initial post said, “Im sorry k I used my guns against some stupid drunks tonight and I’m going to die.”

Users then asked Bertsch what state he was in, which he replied, “Montana and im going out suicide by cop shot at cop car hoping to disable it but turns out I hit the cop ppl.”

Bertsch’s next court date is set for Dec. 5 or an omnibus trial. Casey and Trooper Palmer are still recovering from their injuries, although Casey was able to return to work earlier this week.