LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) - Eric Knysz had a suspended driver's license at the time police say he fatally shot Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield. The license was scheduled to be reinstated less than six hours after the shooting took place.
The shooting occurred Monday night during a traffic stop near Ludington in Mason County. Trooper Butterfield stopped a vehicle that police say was occupied by Eric and Sarah Knysz. Someone in the vehicle shot Butterfield in the head.
On the night of the shooting, police initially said that gunfire was exchanged at the traffic stop. But Wednesday, Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola told reporters he does not think Butterfield ever fired his weapon that night.
Police say the couple fled the scene and Butterfield later died at a hospital.
The Knyszes were later arrested in Manistee County following a gunfight with police in which Eric was shot in a leg.
A source with knowledge of the investigation told 24 Hour News 8 that investigators are looking into claims that Eric "planned" to shoot any officer if he was caught driving or otherwise, at risk of going to jail.
Prosecutors levying murder charges against Eric Knysz have not confirmed who they suspect was driving when the traffic stop happened -- Eric or Sarah. Sarah is also charged with being an accessory after the murder.
A family member of a witness who reportedly saw the traffic stop taking place before the shooting told 24 Hour News 8 that a male was seen in the driver's seat of the pickup truck.
That witness, who is listed on the suspects' charging documents, did not see the shooting take place but called police to give them information about the truck and its occupants after learning of the shooting minutes after he drove by.
Eric Knysz's driving record shows that his license was suspended on July 10 and was set to be reinstated with restrictions at midnight on Sept. 9, less than six hours after Butterfield was killed.
The license was suspended due to a series of violations following an arrest for operating while intoxicated on July 27, 2012, when Eric was involved in a traffic crash. He would have been authorized to drive with passengers limited to immediate family members at 12 a.m. Tuesday, his driving record shows.
On Wednesday, Prosecutor Spaniola said he struggled to understand a possible motive for Butterfield's murder and said he did not suspect Eric Knysz would have been arrested at the traffic stop. Spaniola did not seem to be aware of the license suspension.
"That is one of the most curious questions in this case," Spaniola said. "Often times, homicides have no good reason, but we can often speculate as to what the reason is. … Motive is still unknown."
Eric Knysz remained hospitalized as of Thursday morning and had been scheduled for another surgery. Officials did not have updates on his condition or comment on when he might be released from the hospital to appear in court for arraignment.
Vehicles occupied by a sheriff's deputy and a Michigan State Police motor carrier officer were hit.
A fire damaged three garages and some homes in a Grand Haven neighborhood early Thursday morning.
The suspects stole cash and fled the scene.