Three Forks, MT – A memorial honoring a Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) trooper who was murdered in the line of duty was vandalized by an unknown suspect on Sunday, according to the slain trooper’s father.
Retired MHP Trooper Denny DeLaittre established the memorial site after his son, 23-year-old MHP Trooper David DeLaittre, was brutally murdered during a traffic stop a short distance away in December of 2010.
“This memorial started after David was shot and killed right here on the county road,” Denny DeLaittre told KBZK on Tuesday.
The focal point of the 3.5-acre Trooper David DeLaittre Memorial Park is the fallen trooper’s MHP patrol car, which is perched upon a raised platform held up by cement blocks bearing the names of fellow Montana law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
Denny DeLaittre said there had never been any problems at the memorial park until Sunday, when someone smashed out the driver’s side window of his son’s patrol car, KBZK reported.
He noted that the vandal also attempted to break out the passenger window.
“There is very little respect for law enforcement anymore,” the retired trooper told KBZK.
Photos of the damage was posted to the Trooper David DeLaittre Memorial Park Facebook page, along with a picture of a crushed root beer can found lying on the pavement nearby.
“This is a senseless crime that has hurt our family as well as our community,” the post read. “We are hoping the person who did this, comes forward to apologize for their senseless act of vandalism.”
The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office is handling the ongoing investigation into the incident, according to KBZK.
The memorial park initially offered a $100 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the person responsible for the vandalism, but a multitude of community members, law enforcement groups, and Montana businesses have since tossed in reward funds of their own.
At least one person offered to replace the patrol car window for free, while others offered to help out with funds to install security cameras.
Denny DeLaittre told KBZK he is thankful that “something good is coming out of something bad,” and said he plans to make several upgrades to the law enforcement memorial thanks to the generosity of those who support his effort.
Trooper DeLaittre, a fifth-generation law enforcement officer, served the MHP for just over two years, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
He was out on patrol just before 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2010, when he spotted a pickup parked and running in the middle of a rural road near the Three Forks Airport, NBC News reported at the time.
He called in the traffic stop as the driver, later identified as Errol Brent Bouldin, got out of the truck and started walking towards his patrol vehicle with his hands in his pockets, according to Belgrade News.
Bouldin suddenly pivoted and headed back to his truck as Trooper DeLaittre brought his car to a stop and got out to speak with him, dashcam footage showed.
The young trooper greeted the suspect and asked him to come back towards him just as Bouldin reached into his pickup, Belgrade News reported.
The suspect suddenly spun around with a shotgun and quickly fired two rounds, hitting Trooper DeLaittre in the abdomen with 12-gauge birdshot, according to investigators.
The trooper returned fire until the magazine of his duty weapon was empty, Belgrade News reported.
Bouldin also ended up reloading as Trooper DeLaittre fired two more rounds at him.
The suspect fired the shotgun twice more, shooting Trooper DeLaittre in the face once.
The gunman then jumped into his truck and left Trooper DeLaittre lying dead in the roadway.
The entire incident unfolded in less than 60 seconds, Belgrade News reported.
A Three Forks police officer who knew the young trooper arrived at the scene two minutes after Bouldin fled.
He was soon joined by more than 100 law enforcement officers from throughout the surrounding area, Belgrade News reported.
The gunman’s body was found inside his pickup 35 miles north of Three Forks in the Crow Creek Valley following a four-hour manhunt.
Investigators concluded he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Belgrade News reported.
Montana State Crime Lab Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Dale later testified that Trooper DeLaittre had shot his attacker in the left side of his chest, breaking three ribs and grazing the upper portion of the gunman’s lung, according to the paper.
Dale concluded that the wound likely would have been fatal without emergency medical treatment.
Bouldin was also found to have a blood-alcohol content of .22 at the time of his death, Belgrade News reported.