THREE FORKS — Sometimes there aren’t words to describe certain things - such as losing your son in the line of duty, then having his memorial site vandalized. But the father of Montana Highway Patrol Trooper David DeLaittre, who was shot and killed in December 2010, had some words to say about recent vandalism at the tribute to his son in Three Forks.
“This memorial started after David was shot and killed right here on the county road,” explained Denny DeLaittre, the father of the fallen trooper.
After the deadly traffic stop, the grieving father immediately went into action to make sure his son was never forgotten and up until recently, there haven’t been any problems. “The window on the driver side of the patrol car was broken out. They tried to break the passenger side also,” DeLaittre said.
The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department has taken over the investigation, but this father has a message to send: “Turn yourself in. We’ll work through this,” he said.
Denny says can’t think of why someone would do this other than the badge, noting that some people very little or no respect for law enforcement. The memorial did not have surveillance cameras, but Denny is looking to make several upgrades.
“We get some donations from people, and this here has really opened that up. Something good is coming out of something bad,” he said. Donations can be mailed to the family at TDDMP, PO Box 269, Three Forks, Montana, 59752; or through First Security Bank.
But the father is already thankful for what the community has done. “It’s pretty, pretty emotional for me to have these people that don’t know me, don’t know David jump in and help out. I appreciate it,” Denny said tearfully.
Though Denny has received an outpouring of support, it still doesn’t take away the pain from that tragic day his life changed. “I heard the gunshots, the gunfire exchange on that day. I was outside. I live just a half mile up the road from this location here at the park. It was a day from hell,” he recalled.
All the money raised will go directly back into the memorial.
From the MHP:
Trooper David DeLaittre was shot and killed while conducting a vehicle stop on Lane Road, near the Three Forks Airport, in Gallatin County at about 4:20 pm.
He had stopped the vehicle after seeing a man walking nearby with a shotgun. Before Trooper DeLaittre exited the vehicle the driver exited the truck and started walking back towards the patrol car, then suddenly turned around and reached into the pickup truck.
As Trooper DeLaittre instructed the man to come back the man emerged with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with birdshot. The two exchanged shots at range of 35-feet and Trooper DeLaittre was struck in the abdomen. He took cover on the passenger side of his patrol car as the subject reloaded his shotgun. They exchanged shots again and Trooper DeLaittre suffered a fatal shot.
The suspect, who had been wounded once in the chest during the shootout, fled in his truck. He was found dead several hours later after having committed suicide with a .22 caliber rifle.
He is survived by his parents and three siblings.