MASON COUNTY, Mich. –It has been one year since Michigan State Police Trooper Paul Butterfield was shot and killed in the line of duty.
He was shot in the head by Eric Knysz during a traffic stop in Mason County Sept. 9, 2013, just minutes after starting his shift.
It’s a story that has touched people across the state and nation, with hundreds turning out for his funeral, including law enforcement from around the country.
His fiancée Jennifer Sielski says there isn’t a day or even an hour that goes by that she doesn’t think of him.
“Sometimes you’ll feel happy, other times you just get this crushing, overwhelming feeling of sadness. The grief has changed; it doesn’t go away it just shifts and it just looks different now, but it doesn’t go away,” she said.
Sielski, who sat through every court appearance, says she doesn’t try to think about the suspects unless she has to.
Eric Knysz, 20, committed suicide in prison earlier this year. His wife Sarah, who was pregnant at the time of the shooting, is currently serving time for being an accessory after the fact.
“There are times of course that I do get angry but it just takes energy that I don’t want to give to them.”
Jennifer says support from the community, from those who knew him to strangers, has been incredible; from letters and events held in his honor she says it’s clear how much of an impact he left.
A man who loved animals and was always up to try new things, a kind of passion for life that was inspiring, Sielski says she remembers him as a person who had a great sense of humor and always put people first.
Now she’s focused on keeping his memory alive, honoring a man who was dedicated to serving.
“I think it’s important for people to know the man behind the badge, that’s who I knew and of course a trooper was a big part of his life and but I think it’s his character, his integrity, his kindness, his generosity that made him such a good trooper,” she said.
For more information about events held in his honor visit ‘In Memoriam of Paul K. Butterfield.’