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Report: Butts' gun, likely used to kill deputy, malfunctioned in later shootout

Report: Butts' gun, likely used to kill deputy, malfunctioned in later shootout


The man believed to have killed a Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputy in April likely used the same handgun to shoot at two officers who confronted and killed him the following night, according to documents released Tuesday by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

When Brian Butts was contacted by Kelso police April 14 on Spencer Creek Road, he fired a shot at the officers, then his pistol jammed with a spent bullet casing, according to a new information in a detective’s report. The officers returned fire, killing the 33-year-old Kalama resident.

A detective found Butts with several gunshot wounds to the left hand, left hip, left calf, and another possible injury to the back of his head or nape of the neck. Next to Butts the investigator found a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol, the same gun detectives believe Butts used to kill Deputy Justin DeRosier.

In a shoulder bag Butts was wearing when he was shot, detectives found two bags of meth with a plastic straw and a dented can of chili.

DeRosier died early the morning of April 14 after he was shot the night before while investigating a motor home owned by Butts that was blocking the 100 block of Fallert Road, according to police.

A law enforcement manhunt for DeRosier’s killer ensued. At 2 a.m., officers encountered and arrested Matthew Veatch, who is currently charged with aiding Butts in escaping law enforcement after the shooting. Butts came to Veatch’s residence on Fallert Road and asked him to hide a handgun, detectives say. Then Veatch led Butts away from his house and into the woods, where Butts admitted he shot a cop. Veatch led Butts to a barn, where they parted ways.

At about 7 p.m. on April 14, officers found Butts along Spencer Creek Road, and that’s where the officers killed Butts in a brief gun battle, according to police.

Documents released Tuesday include a report about a handwritten note inside a plastic bag attached to Butt’s motor home driver door. It said, “Do now tow, ran out of gas, any questions call Mike” along with a phone number. It is an apparent reference to Michael Veatch.

Veatch later told deputies he had been helping Butts work on the motorhome, according to documents in the investigation.

Brothers Matthew and Michael Veatch were acquaintances of Butts. Detectives believe Michael Veatch called Butts to warn him that DeRosier was on his way to the reports of Butt’s motorhome blocking the road, according to a search warrant. DeRosier had stopped Michael Veatch for a broken tail light while on his way to the motorhome where he was later shot.

When searching the Veatch residence, detectives found a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol in Matthew Veatch’s gun locker that was determined to have been stolen from a vehicle earlier in 2019 in a Longview PD case. The gun was partially covered in wet mud, was missing its magazine, and had a live round chambered. It may be the same gun that Matthew Veatch told deputies Butts had given him to hide.

The Veatchs’ mother, Cheryl Veatch, told investigators that Michael Veatch along with a friend and several neighbors came over earlier on the night of the shooting for a bonfire near the family home. Sometime before 10 p.m., they heard gunshots, she said, and she received an emergency alert on her phone. She told people to come inside the house or go home, she told detectives, and she recalled Michael Veatch and his friend coming inside the house.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the shooting and expects the next update of information to be released around Oct. 10.


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