ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) - The Michigan State Police has released new information in the death of Trooper Paul Butterfield, who died after being shot in the head during a traffic stop Monday night in Mason County.
During a news conference at the MSP Rockford Post Tuesday morning, Lt. Chris McIntire said troopers spent hours Monday night talking to witnesses, executing search warrants and talking to the suspects, a man and a woman, both of whom are in police custody.
“We're kinda putting the package together right now to give to the prosecutor’s office so they can decide what charges they're going to file on both suspects,” McIntire said.
Butterfield, a 14-year veteran of the department and a “well-seasoned” trooper, conducted the traffic stop around 6:20 p.m. Monday about a mile from the intersection of N. Custer and E. Beyer roads in Sherman Township and radioed dispatchers to inform them about the stop.
Police said the suspects, who were identified by the male suspect's grandmother as Eric and Sarah Knysz, were riding in red truck, gunfire was exchanged, and Butterfield was shot in the head. The suspects then drove from the scene.
About four minutes after he was shot, a passerby noticed Butterfield on the side of the road and called 911. He was airlifted to the hospital, but died from his injuries during surgery.
“Its kinda protocol for our troopers, they will call a traffic stop out, location, the license plate, the color of the vehicle. Sometimes when it's important and sometimes when it's not,” McIntire said. “When Trooper Butterfield did that, it helped the investigation a ton."
The Knyszes were found around 8:25 p.m., about 20 minutes away from where the shooting happened, at the Dublin General Store gas station in Wellston, which is located in in Manistee County.
Gunfire was exchanged between the Knyszes and MSP troopers, and Eric Knysz was shot. Both suspects were arrested, police said, and Eric Knysz was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Eric Knysz was shot in the leg, according to his grandmother, but his family was not allowed to see him in the hospital.
"You just can't prepare for something like this,” McIntire said Tuesday morning. “We have probably the best training out there and we do all the right things. Butterfield did all the right things last night. It's just something you can't prepare for."
Police did not release information on the motive for the shooting or the relationship between the Knyszes the news conference.
Flags flew at half-staff Tuesday and law enforcement officers at multiple agencies wore black ribbons over their badges as they mourned the death of Butterfield.
“Of course, this is us, this is the job that we do, the risks we take, unfortunately,” McIntire said. “I think it's a loss for the entire community, not just law enforcement, and we're very saddened by it."
Funeral services for Butterfield, who police said was from the Frankenmuth and Bridgeport area, have not yet been set.
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