MANISTEE, Mich. (WOOD) - Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield was honored at a Celebration of Life ceremony Saturday.
Butterfield, 43, was shot in the head during what appeared to be a routine traffic stop on the evening of Sept. 9, only about a half-hour into his shift. He died a few hours later during surgery. A married couple has been charged in connection to his murder.
The funeral service at the Manistee High School gym in Manistee, Mich. was packed Saturday with more than 1,000 people. Police officers from across the nation attended.
Following a salute to Butterfield's casket, MSP 7th District Commander Capt. Robert Lesneski opened the ceremony at 1 p.m., thanking attendees for coming in from cities, states and -- in the governor's case -- even countries away.
"We are truly humbled by your support and kindness," he said.
Rev. Joel Ehlert of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth -- where Butterfield was from -- then spoke, reading scripture and sharing his memories of Butterfield.
"God did not create us to be cowards. ... You all know that you're laying your life on the line to protect John Doe citizen," Ehlert told the officers present. "You protect citizens like me. Paul literally laid down his life for people like me."
"You officers who apprehended the suspect also laid your life on the line," he added.
Gov. Rick Snyder, who had just returned from a trade trip to Asia, then addressed the crowd.
"Today is not a good day," he said. "We all wish we weren't here."
He called Butterfield a good friend and a leader and honored him for living a life of service -- both in the U.S. Army and the Michigan State Police.
"What higher honor could someone do than follow in their father’s path in a life of service?" he said.
He urged Michiganders to remember the constant danger of officers' jobs and to thank them.
"We should always say thank you and give them great respect," he said.
He also told a story of a time Trooper Butterfield made two arrests and made sure the cat in the home had food and water.
The governor then addressed Butterfield's father -- also named Paul -- and said he should be proud of his son's life and his love for his family.
"As governor of Michigan, I ask that all Michiganders honor Trooper Paul Butterfield with respect, with keeping his memory alive of his service to us," he said.
MSP Director Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue also spoke.
"It's very difficult to know just what to say at a time like this," she said. "For me, it's still very difficult to think about the evening of Sept. 9."
She said when she was informed of the shooting, she went immediately to Munsen Medical Center in Traverse City, where Butterfield was undergoing surgery. She said she prayed for a miracle.
"I don't know what motivates people to commit these terrible and violent acts," she said. "But regardless, there will be justice for those responsible for his death."
She remembered Butterfield as an outstanding trooper who was "dedicated to doing what's right."
"I know he loved the Michigan State Police, serving with integrity," she said. "I'm going to tell Paul that I will never forget him."
She said she and other police officers around the nation share the memory of Butterfield and his sacrifice.
"Some say this is a profession. I say it’s a calling. We’re privileged every day to wear this uniform," she said. "We know our work never ends, and we'll take it from here."
"Godspeed, my MSP Trooper Paul Butterfield. May you rest in peace," she concluded.
After the ceremony, an honor guard escorted Butterfield's casket from the gymnasium as bagpipes played. Officers in ranks outside saluted.
There was a 21-gun salute. Officers then presented Butterfield's family with the American flag that had draped his casket.
There was then an MSP helicopter flyover, after which Butterfield's casket was loaded into a waiting hearse and driven away as officers stood at attention and bagpipes played "Amazing Grace."
Butterfield was laid to rest in a private family ceremony.
Those wishing to make a memorial contribution to the Butterfield family may send checks payable to:
Michigan State Troopers Assistance Fund
1715 Abbey Rd, Suite B
East Lansing, MI 48823
Memo: Tpr. Paul Butterfield II
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