HART (WWJ) – Charges have been filed against a 19-year-old man and his pregnant wife in connection with the shooting death of a Michigan State Police trooper.
Eric Knysz is charged with murdering a peace officer, felony firearm, concealed weapons violation, unlawfully driving away an auto, and being a habitual offender. His 21-year-old wife Sarah, who is six-months pregnant, is charged with being an accessory after the fact and stealing a car.
Officials say Eric Knysz, who is hospitalized with a gunshot wound, is expected to be arraigned Thursday, while Sarah Knysz is expected to face a judge Wednesday afternoon.
Tpr. Paul Butterfield died Monday night after being shot while conducting a traffic stop in Mason County.
According to police, Butterfield had stopped a vehicle around 6:20 p.m. on Custer Road near Townline Road. A few moments later, a passing motorist called 911 to report finding Butterfield on the ground with a gunshot wound to the head. Butterfield was airlifted to Munson Hospital, where he passed away during emergency surgery.
Based on information Butterfield relayed to dispatch about the vehicle he stopped, a suspect was developed. Court officials say the couple was in a pickup truck, but stole a car shortly after shooting Butterfield.
Through a series of incidents in the area, law enforcement located the suspects at a gas station/convenience store in Wellston in Manistee County at approximately 8:25 p.m. There was an exchange of gunfire with two suspects, resulting in Eric Knysz being shot in the leg.
Mary Spoffard, Eric Knysz’s aunt, said the incident has torn both families apart.
“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 told CBS News. “I mean, my family is done, Officer Butterfield’s family is done. All we can do is try to help somebody else not have to go through what we’re going through.”
Spoffard said family members have tried for years, unsuccessfully, to get her nephew to seek help, adding that he has a violent history.
Tpr. Butterfield joined the state police force in 1999, graduating as a member of the 118th Trooper Recruit School. Flags were ordered to fly at half-staff Wednesday in Butterfield’s honor. The flags will stay that way until Butterfield is laid to rest this weekend.