The fundraising continues by businesses owned (or formerly owned) by Missoula entrepreneur Michael Burks and his family to assist the victims of the March 15th shooting spree in Missoula, Highway Patrol Trooper Wade Palmer and Brian Leischner an independent trucker severely injured by a wrong way driver on I-90.

Burks explained the purpose behind the fundraising efforts.

“As we all know, the week of March 14th was catastrophic for the entire community,” said Burks. “In addition to the four victims that were involved in the shooting, there was also another gentleman by the name of Brian who was involved in a head-on collision on I-90 just four miles from his home. He is an independent truck driver owner-operator, and being in the trucking business, I understand that every one of these owner operators are on their own as far as insurance goes and in paying for his treatment.”

Burks, the former owner of the now closed Garden of Read’n Christian Bookstore, began a fundraising effort for the victims of the March 15 shootings just weeks before the store was to close.


“We all know that the Garden of Read’n was putting on a fundraiser for the families of the shooting victims,” he said. “At Fuel Fitness we wanted to make sure that Brian and his family were taken care of, so the day of the incident on March 20th, Fuel committed to matching every single sign up of new members from the date of the accident to Easter. In that time we generated 120 new members which came to about $7,000. That’s $3500 in membership fees and another $3500 matching, so that check was a little over $7,000. In addition, may of our members donated close to a thousand dollars of their own money, so we were able to present the family a check for just over $8,000. So, between the two businesses, we got to bless the five families with over $70,000, so it’s been a good Friday.

The fundraising for the family of Wade Palmer also continues with a raffle of an ATV from Kurt’s Polaris at all the Fuel locations in Montana and Idaho with tickets selling for $20. The winner will be announced on May 4 at a benefit dinner at Neptune Aviation at the Missoula Airport.

Palmer remains in the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City receiving treatment for three gunshot wounds to his head, face and neck.

28 year-old Jonathan Bertsch is in the Missoula County Jail charged with one count if deliberate homicide and three counts of attempted deliberate homicide with bail set at $2 million.

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