Officials: Slain Montana deputy had 3 years with department

AP News
Posted: May 16, 2017 3:50 PM
Officials: Slain Montana deputy had 3 years with department

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A sheriff's deputy was killed early Tuesday in a shootout that prompted a middle-of-the-night pursuit that spanned more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) across southwestern Montana, involving several law enforcement agencies.

Before sunrise, the chase had ended with the 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 on U.S. Highway 287, the sheriff's office said. Moore told dispatchers he was stopping a vehicle at about 3 a.m. Tuesday but didn't respond to further communications.

Gallatin County and Montana Highway Patrol officers responded and found Moore dead by the side of the road near Three Forks, about 175 miles (281 kilometers) 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 (129 kilometers) away. Officers deployed spike strips, but the vehicle continued another 30 miles (48 kilometers) on Interstate 90. The vehicle eventually came to a stop about 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Missoula.

The passenger got out and shot at officers who returned fire, Gootkin said. The passenger, who was identified as Marshall Barrus, 38, was shot in the head and taken to the hospital. His condition has not been released.

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.

The 140-mile (225-kilometer) pursuit of the suspects crossed through parts of five counties and involved at least seven agencies, officials said. Butte-Silver Bow County Sheriff Ed 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 struck by gunfire, Lester said in a statement.

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Officers from numerous agencies joined a procession at mid-day Tuesday to transfer Moore's body from Three Forks to Billings for an autopsy.

Moore, 38, had been with the Broadwater County sheriff's office for three years. He is survived by his wife and three children.

"This is a tremendously sad day for all of us here in Broadwater County," Sheriff Wynn Meehan said in a statement. "It's difficult to adequately describe how devastating it feels to lose one of our own in the line of duty. Our deputy died protecting the citizens of our county and displayed remarkable courage until the very end. His actions will never be forgotten."

Moore was shot less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) from where Montana Highway Patrol Trooper David DeLaittre was killed near Three Forks in December 2010.

The nation marked Peace Officers Memorial Day on Monday.