Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield II was shot and killed Tuesday night in Mason County while conducting a traffic stop, the Michigan State Police said.
“Tonight we lost a hero,” said Michigan State Police Director Col. Kriste Kibbe Etue in a statement Tuesday. “The entire MSP family, as well as our greater law enforcement family, mourns alongside the Butterfields. Trooper Butterfield's sacrifice will never be forgotten; may he rest in peace."
Butterfield stopped a vehicle on Custer Road in Mason County and was then shot. He was able to pass along information to a dispatcher about the vehicle. A motorist on the road called 911 at 6:23 p.m. Tuesday after finding the trooper on the ground with a gunshot wound to his head. Butterfield died during emergency surgery at Munson Hospital.
Michigan State Troopers were able to locate the suspect around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in Manistee County. As troopers approached him, he brandished a handgun and pointed it at one of the troopers. One of the troopers then shot the man, who did not suffer any life-threatening injuries.
A man and a woman were taken into custody after the incident. The shooting of Butterfield and the shooting by police are both under investigation.
While state police haven’t identified the suspect, Kalamazoo television station WMMT identified him as Eric Knysz. WMMT also identified his wife, Sarah Knysz, as the woman that was arrested.
Eric Knysz’s aunt, Mary Spoffard, told the station that her nephew confessed to shooting the trooper. She said the family is in disbelief over the allegations.
"Words can't express. Words can never express how I feel. Being a vet and Eric's dad being a vet and a former cop we're just in shock," Spoffard said.
Butterfield, a U.S. Army veteran, became a trooper with the Michigan State Police in the 1990s after graduating from trooper recruit school, according to the state police.
The trooper’s death was also mourned by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
“This senseless incident is a grim reminder that our brave public safety officers put their lives on the line every day when they go to work protecting Michiganders. They are heroes,” the governor said in a statement. “Our hearts break when a Michigan State Police trooper, or any of our other police officers or firefighters, is killed in the line of duty. Their loss is unquestionably felt by their families as well as the communities they serve and our entire state. We realize the extraordinary difficulty of their jobs and the sacrifices they make for us.
“A tragic event like this shakes us all, but it also bolsters our resolve to make our streets and our neighborhoods safer,” Snyder continued. “We thank Trooper Butterfield for his bravery, his service and his sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, friends, and colleagues.”