DeRosier’s death: Shooting, suspect, a community’s loss

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Thousands are expected to attend a memorial service on Wednesday for Cowlitz County Deputy Justin DeRosier.

The 29-year-old died in the line of duty.

The fatal shooting

On Saturday, April 13, Deputy DeRosier responded to the report of a disabled motorhome blocking the road around 10:30 p.m. He was shot sometime after arriving and rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, he died sometime after midnight in surgery.

DeRosier leaves behind a wife and 5-month-old daughter.

Suspect dead, another arrested

The search for the shooter started immediately.

The suspected shooter — Brian Butts — died after a confrontation with two Kelso police officers on Sunday, April 14. When officers responded to the “suspicious subject” call, they said they were met with an armed combatant. Butts died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities later learned Butts was carrying 45 grams of suspected methamphetamine at the time and was also armed with a semi-automatic handgun. That gun is being analyzed for its connection to DeRosier’s death.

Matthew Veatch was also arrested in connection to the fatal shooting of Deputy DeRosier. According to court documents, Butts asked him to hide a handgun the night DeRosier was shot.

A community mourns

Deputy DeRosier’s family spoke for the first time since his death on Monday saying law enforcement was his calling.

“Justin always wanted to be a cop and he was the best one I knew,” his sister Jenna said. “He loved going to work every single day.”

She also spoke about Justin’s character. He had the heart of a protector and was always there for his loved ones.

“I love my brother and he was my best friend. My parents lost their son. They loved him so much and we’re so incredibly proud of him. Katie lost her husband and the love of her life. Their daughter Lilly lost her daddy. Words fail to describe that loss.”

DeRosier’s death has also hit the tight-knit communities of Kalama, Kelso and Longview hard.

“He really did have that heart of gold,” family friend and Cowlitz County Fire Chief Vic Leatzow told KOIN 6 News.

“I had a lot of hope and plans for Justin and I saw him working his way up int his dept very rapidly. He had that ability,” Undersheriff Darren Ullman.

Dozens of businesses have set up fundraisers to show their support and help the DeRosier family during this difficult time.

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