Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 15, 2013

Mourners pay tribute to slain trooper


Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — MANISTEE, Mich. (AP) — Law enforcement vehicles rolled, one after another, scores of patrol cars and SUVs in grim procession toward Manistee High School.

Hundreds of officers converged on this Lake Michigan community on Saturday to pay tribute to a slain brother, Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield. They came from law enforcement agencies throughout the state and beyond, and some of them offered a quick nod or wave to locals who showed support with American flags and tears.

Butterfield died Monday, shot to death during a traffic stop in Mason County. Funeral services were Saturday in Manistee, where Butterfield served several years before his recent transfer to the Hart post.

Gov. Rick Snyder attended the service in a packed gymnasium and praised Butterfield. He said the elite runner and Army veteran deserved praise for dedication to his family, community and country.

"He was a role model for all of us," Snyder said of Butterfield, 43, who was a 14-year state police veteran. "He was a leader. He lived the life of service."

The funeral was followed by a tribute that included a drum-and-bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace," a helicopter flyover and a 21-gun salute.

Snyder called Monday's shooting "a senseless and terrible act."

Eric Knysz, 19, was arraigned Friday on charges of homicide, using a gun during a felony, car theft and habitual offender. He was ordered held without bond and appointed a public defender, but an officer at the Mason County Jail told The Associated Press on Saturday there was no attorney listed in Knysz's file.

Authorities say Knysz shot Butterfield in the head in Sherman Township, about 80 miles north of Grand Rapids. Sarah Knysz, 25, has been charged with helping her husband try to escape.

John Knysz told WZZM-TV the family was remorseful for the crimes his son is accused of committing.

"We all die a little when receive such terrible news," said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the state police. "I don't know what motivates people to commit these violent crimes and evil acts. This tragedy is just so difficult to comprehend. Regardless, there will be justice for those responsible for his death."

Etue said Butterfield, who was engaged to Jennifer Sielski, "did everything right on the night" he died.

She said Butterfield, a second-generation trooper, was a track star at Bridgeport High School near Saginaw and at the University of Tennessee who will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.

"He had the DNA of a champion," she said.