A crowd mostly dressed in black gathered outside the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday evening to remember the Broadwater County sheriff’s deputy who was killed in the line of duty on Tuesday.
Officers, deputies and firefighters from every agency across the county helped citizens light candles in honor of Deputy Mason Moore, 42, who was shot and killed near Three Forks during a routine traffic stop.
Two suspects, a father and son, allegedly shot Moore from their vehicle while stopped. After dispatch lost contact with Moore, a Gallatin County sheriff’s deputy responded to the scene to find Moore’s body lying beside U.S. 129.
Video footage from Moore’s patrol car helped officers identify the suspects’ vehicle, and a 100-mile chase from Butte to Rock Creek ensued. There the suspects allegedly exited their vehicle and began shooting at officers.
The son, Marshall Barrus, 38, was shot in the head by officers and “mortally wounded,” and his father, Lloyd Barrus, was arrested and taken into custody.
Barrus was charged Wednesday with 14 counts of attempted deliberate homicide and two counts of accountability to attempted deliberate homicide.
Moore left behind a wife and three children, a fact that has impacted local law enforcement as well.
“My wife prays for me, as I’m sure many families do,” Flathead County Chaplain Randy Olson said at the vigil. “It’s like an earthquake, and with the law enforcement family the waves of that echo out.”
The Whitefish and Kalispell Police departments, Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and several local fire departments had officers in attendance as Olson spoke and prayed for Moore’s family and community, as well as local law enforcement.
“We each help each other,” one firefighter told a police officer.
One Flathead County sheriff’s deputy attended the candlelight vigil with his family.
“Kalispell needed a way to say goodbye,” Deputy Aaron Brown said, hugging his daughter to him.
His daughter, 12-year-old Chloe Brown, said she worries about her father “all the time.” She said she often imagines different scenarios in which her father, who works in the Flathead County jail, could be hurt in his job.
“This really brings it into reality,” Brown said. “You never know when it could be you.”
The last death of an officer in the line of duty in Montana was in 2014 when Cascade County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph James Dunn was killed in a vehicular assault. An officer has not been shot and killed in Montana in seven years.
Moore’s death came at the beginning of National Police Week, honoring the men and women in blue.
Olson closed the vigil by quoting Bible verse John 15:13 which says, “Greater love hath no man than this: that he may lay down his life for his friends.”
Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.