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End of Watch: A Tribute to Fallen Troopers

The men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol understand that protecting the public sometimes comes at a personal price. Eight Montana troopers have paid the ultimate price since the agency began 75 years ago.

“End of Watch” refers to the date a trooper died in the line of duty. These are Montana’s fallen troopers:

Patrolman Robert G. Steele

End of Watch: Saturday, November 2, 1946Age: 30
Tour of Duty: 6 years
Badge Number: MHP 178
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Weapon Used: Handgun

Patrolman Robert Steele was shot and killed while he and his partner investigated a car that had just been used in a robbery in Billings. They watched a car matching the description of a car involved in the robbery pull off Highway 10 and turn its lights off. Steele and a fellow patrolman, riding together, pulled in behind the car. Steele walked up to the passenger’s side of the car with his gun drawn. One of the occupants suddenly leaned out of the car and shot Patrolman Steele in the throat, killing him.

Steele’s partner shot and killed the suspect. He and the other suspect then exchanged shots in a shootout. Both were wounded. The suspect ran off, but was caught after an 11-hour manhunt. The surviving suspect was sent to prison but was later released on parole.

Steele was a WWII veteran and had been with the agency for six years. He had returned to the police force from WWII only two months before his murder.

Patrolman James H. Anderson

End of Watch: Saturday, July 24, 1954Age: 47
Tour of Duty: 13 years
Badge Number: MHP 151
Cause of Death: Struck by vehicle
Weapon Used:

Patrolman James Anderson was struck and killed by a vehicle during a traffic stop for a routine equipment inspection near Livingston. He was standing at the driver’s side window of the vehicle he pulled over when he was struck. The driver who struck Anderson was convicted of manslaughter.

Anderson had been with the agency for 13 years.

Patrolman Richard E. Hedstrom

End of Watch: Thursday, July 19, 1973Age: 24
Tour of Duty: 2 weeks
Badge Number: MHP 307
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
Weapon Used:

Patrolman Hedstrom was struck and killed by a drunk driver during a traffic stop in Columbia Falls. He was writing a warning for a broken headlight, and his training officer was sitting in the patrol car when it was struck from behind by a pickup truck going 87 mph. The impact pushed the patrol car into Hedstrom, causing fatal injuries. The driver of the truck was to be charged with negligent homicide but died of his injuries sustained in the crash.

Patrolman Michael M. Ren

End of Watch: Saturday, April 8, 1978Age: 30
Tour of Duty: 8 years
Badge Number: MHP 240
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Weapon Used:

Patrolman Michael Ren was shot and killed after being called to assist a deputy from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office serving two felony warrants on a recently released mental patient. The suspect was wanted for violating terms of his release from a state mental health facility. Ren spotted the suspect driving a pickup truck and a high-speed chase ensued.

During the chase, the suspect pulled a .308 rifle from inside the cab of his pickup and opened fire on Ren and another patrolman. Five rounds struck Ren’s patrol car before the suspect crashed in the town of Eureka. As Ren pulled up, the suspect jumped from his truck and shot Ren in the abdomen. The bullet traveled in between the back panels of Ren’s Kevlar vest.

The suspect ran to a nearby house and took the family inside hostage. Officers from the sheriff’s department, Highway Patrol and U.S. Border Patrol surrounded the house. After six hours, the suspect released his hostages but remained barricaded inside the house. Officers fired three canisters of tear gas into the house, and the suspect surrendered. The man was charged with murder of a police officer and was committed to a mental institution. He was later released and committed suicide.

Ren was survived by his wife, 5-year-old son and his parents. In 2000, Patrolman Ren’s son joined the Montana Highway Patrol. Ren had been with the agency for six years and previously he was a police officer in Columbia Falls, Montana, for two years.

Trooper David A. Graham

End of Watch: Tuesday, October 9, 2007Age: 36
Tour of Duty: 1 year, 2 months
Badge Number: MHP 224
Cause of Death: Automobile crash
Weapon Used:

Trooper David Graham was killed in an automobile accident on Highway 2 in Kalispell while on patrol. An oncoming pickup truck crossed into his lane and struck his patrol car head-on.

Graham had served with the Montana Highway Patrol for 14 months. He is survived by his wife and three children. For more information regarding Trooper David A. Graham click here.

Trooper Evan F. Schneider

End of Watch: Tuesday, August 26, 2008Age: 29
Tour of Duty: 4 years, 7 months
Badge Number: MHP 330
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
Weapon Used:

Trooper Evan Schneider was killed in an automobile accident on Highway 2 near Columbia Falls when his patrol car was struck by a drunk driver. The intoxicated driver veered into Schneider’s lane and hit him head-on.

Two occupants in the second vehicle were also killed.

Schneider had served with the Montana Highway Patrol since January 2004. He is survived by his wife and brother. His brother also serves with the agency.

Trooper Michael W. (Mike) Haynes

End of Watch: Friday, March 27, 2009Age: 28
Tour of Duty: 2 years, 6 months
Badge Number: MHP 159
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
Weapon Used:

Trooper Mike Haynes died of injuries sustained five days earlier when a car driven by an intoxicated driver struck his patrol car head-on on U.S. Highway 93 near Kalispell.

The drunk driver was driving the wrong way on the highway when the collision occurred at approximately 2:40 a.m. The intoxicated driver was also killed in the collision.

Trooper Haynes had served with the Montana Highway Patrol for two and a half years. He is survived by his wife, two young children, and parents.

Trooper David J. DeLaittre

End of Watch: Wednesday, December 1, 2010Age: 23
Tour of Duty: 2 years
Badge Number: MHP 269
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Weapon Used:

Trooper DeLaittre was shot and killed by a motorist near his hometown of Three Forks around 4:30 p.m. December 1, 2010. DeLaittre had stopped to investigate a pick-up truck idling in the middle of the highway. The suspect shot DeLaittre unprovoked with a shotgun. DeLaittre returned fire, injuring the suspect, who drove away and into nearby mountains where he committed suicide.

DeLaittre was the youngest Montana Highway Patrol trooper to die in the line of duty. His father was also a trooper.

DeLaittre was survived by his parents, two sisters and a step-sister.

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