Brian Butts may have been warned that Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin DeRosier was coming to investigate his motorhome the night of April 13, according to newly released documents that link another person to the deputy’s death.
According to a Clark County Sheriff’s Office search warrant, a witness saw three men working on a motorhome on Fallert Road between 5 and 6 p.m. that evening. Two of the men were determined to be Butts, 33, and Michael Veatch, 33.
At around 10 p.m., DeRosier was dispatched to a report that Butts’ disabled motorhome was blocking Fallert Road, according to the search warrant, which The Daily News obtained through a public records request. On the way, DeRosier pulled Michael Veatch over on Fallert Road and warned him about a broken taillight.
After their traffic stop, Michael Veatch called Butts to warn him the deputy was on his way, according to the search warrant. Several minutes later DeRosier went to the motorhome and was shot, dying the next morning at a Vancouver hospital.
Butts, who is suspected of shooting the deputy, died in a gunfight on Spencer Creek Road the evening of April 14.
Investigators learned about the alleged tipoff the next day from a passenger who was riding in the car with Michael Veatch on April 13 and heard on a police scanner that the deputy was headed to the motorhome. The passenger told investigators that Veatch called Butts with his cell phone to warn him that DeRosier was on the way.
The document gives no indication about why Veatch believed a warning was necessary. However, a search warrant executed at Butts’ motorhome found a glass pipe with white residue, ammunition, and mail or documents that appeared to have been stolen.
Veatch later told deputies he had been helping Butts work on the motorhome and drove back home to his Fallert Road residence after their traffic stop. As Veatch and the passenger passed the motorhome, they saw a deputy with a gun drawn outside the vehicle, according to the passenger. Veatch denied seeing anyone at the motorhome or the deputy’s car, according to the search warrant.
Veatch is one of two brothers named in court and police documents in the investigation into DeRosier’s death. His brother Matthew Veatch, 24, is charged with criminally aiding Butts in his escape from law enforcement after the shooting.
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Michael Veatch so far has not been charged by the Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the events of DeRosier’s death. It’s not clear at this point whether the tipoff would constitute a crime or lead to charges. (Michael Veatch’s live-in girlfriend, Savannah Eastman, told The Daily News earlier this month that he was not involved in the shooting. She could not be reached for comment Friday.)
Michael Veatch, who has a criminal history, appears in numerous documents associated with the DeRosier case, including the probable cause statement for his brother’s arrest.
According to the search warrant, detectives have obtained DNA evidence from Michael Veatch to investigate whether he was further involved in DeRosier’s death.
At about 2 a.m. April 14 — several hours after DeRosier was shot — deputies found Matthew Veatch near the end of Modrow Road, disheveled and muddy. He told deputies that he was at his Fallert Road residence when he heard a gunshot, and that minutes later, Michael Veatch arrived in a vehicle, looking “more serious than normal.”
Ten minutes later, he told deputies, Butts arrived from out of the bushes at their residence. Butts gave Matthew Veatch a pistol to get rid of, which deputies later found in Matthew Veatch’s room, according to the search warrant.
Later in the evening of April 14, two Kelso officers found Butts on Spencer Creek Road, where an armed confrontation ensued, according to the warrant. Butts was shot and killed by the two Kelso officers, who two weeks ago were cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting.
During the search for Butts on the morning of April 14, police found a Longview man asleep in his car on China Garden Road east of Kalama. He was interviewed briefly and released. However, police “surmised” that the man had arranged to pick up Butts, noting that Butts could have used the the flashing lights of a communications tower as a beacon to rendezvous, according to the search warrant.
During a second police interview with the man, he told police he knew Butts from prison but had driven up to the end of China Garden to cool off following an argument with his girlfriend. Cowlitz County Prosecutor Ryan Jurvakainen said on Friday that neither Michael Veatch, the passenger in Veatch’s car nor the Longview man encountered on China Garden Road have been charged in the shooting at this time. He said the investigation is ongoing.