Michigan Man Charged in Murder of State Trooper

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Image: Paul Butterfield
Michigan State Police via Ludington Daily News / AP

Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield

A Michigan man was charged Wednesday in the shooting of a Michigan State Police trooper. The man’s pregnant wife, meanwhile, stands accused of trying to help him flee the scene.

Mason County prosecutors say Eric Knysz, 19, shot and killed Trooper Paul Butterfield, 43, during a traffic stop in Sherman Township in a rural northwestern area of the state. His wife Sarah, 21, faces two charges of attempting to drive away from the incident, the Muskegon Chronicle reports.

The couple had been stopped by Butterfield while they were driving along the isolated Towline Road. The reason they were stopped is unclear, but Butterfield provided location and vehicle information to a dispatcher just before he was shot. After a few minutes, a passerby called 911 to report that Butterfield was lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. He was airlifted to a hospital in Traverse City, where he was pronounced dead.

Two hours later, state police caught the two suspects at a gas station in Manistee County, about 40 miles away. When police caught up with the vehicle, Knysz allegedly aimed a weapon at an officer, who fired, wounding the suspect, officials say. His wife Sarah was unharmed. The two were taken into custody and Knysz is expected to appear in court Thursday.

Knysz’s father, Jack, himself a former officer in Calumet City, Ill., told WOOD in Grand Rapids, Mich., that his .357 magnum handgun was missing from his home. Police have not confirmed that the weapon was used in the shooting.  But the weapon believed to have been used in the crime was recovered Tuesday.

“Our whole family, our hearts and our prayers go out to the trooper, his family, and all the other troopers. I’m at a loss for words,” Jack Knysz said. He admitted his son has had “some scrapes with the law,” but described him as a “decent kid.”