MISSOULA (AP) – A sheriff’s deputy was killed early Tuesday in a shootout that prompted a pre-dawn pursuit that lasted 140 miles across southwestern Montana. The chase ended before sunrise with the suspects’ vehicle driving on its rims, a suspect shot and hospitalized and his father under arrest, officials said.
The chain of events began when Broadwater County Deputy Mason Moore was pursuing a vehicle and told dispatchers he was stopping it at about 3 a.m. but did not respond to further communication, the sheriff’s office said.
Moore, 42, had been with the Broadwater County sheriff’s office for three years. He is survived by his wife and three children.
“It’s difficult to adequately describe how devastating it feels to lose one of our own in the line of duty,” said Sheriff Wynn Meehan. “Our deputy died protecting the citizens of our county and displayed remarkable courage until the very end.”
Gallatin County and Montana Highway Patrol officers found Moore dead by the side of the road near Three Forks, about 175 miles southeast of Missoula, said Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin.
Investigators watched the deputy’s dashboard camera to identify the sport utility vehicle that he had been pursuing, Gootkin said.
The SUV was later spotted about 80 miles away. Officers put spike strips on the road that the vehicle ran over them but continued another 30 miles on Interstate 90. The SUV was driving on rims alone when it came to a stop east of Missoula.
The passenger got out and shot at Butte-Silver Bow County officers, who returned fire, said Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester. Marshall Barrus, 38, was shot in the head, Lester said. He was taken to the hospital. His condition has not been released but Missoula County officials said he is in custody.
The driver, Lloyd Barrus, 61, was arrested on suspicion of deliberate homicide. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Missoula County Justice Court on Wednesday.
Lester said at least one of the suspects fired at pursuing officers with at least one semi-automatic rifle. Three of his officers’ cars were hit with gunfire during the pursuit and two of the vehicles were disabled.
Vehicles from other law enforcement agencies were also hit by gunfire, Lester said in a statement.
The Montana Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the officer’s shooting along with four other crime scenes stretching from Butte to the Rock Creek area, where the pursuit ended.
Several hours later, officers from numerous agencies joined a procession at mid-day Tuesday to transfer Moore’s body from Three Forks to Billings for an autopsy. It arrived in Billings in the afternoon, where firefighters raised a large American flag from a ladder truck.
Moore was shot less than 2 miles from where Montana Highway Patrol Trooper David DeLaittre was killed near Three Forks in December 2010.
The U.S. marked Peace Officers Memorial Day on Monday.