Just before 4:00pm on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, Trooper Justin R. Schaffer of the Washington State Patrol was struck and killed by a fleeing driver while he was placing spike strips on the southbound side of Interstate 5 in Chehalis, WA, during a police pursuit.
By tragic coincidence, Justin’s father Glenn is currently the Chief of Police in the adjacent city of Chehalis.
Lt. Ray Brady, a spokesman for the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, said officers began pursuing the suspect, a 39-year-old man from Thurston County, on Monday afternoon after he allegedly stole a bottle of lighter fluid from Pacific Mini Mart in Lacey.
The convenience-store clerk followed the man into the parking lot intending to take a photograph of his license plate when the man pulled out a stun gun and pointed it at the clerk and a customer, Brady said.
“They were able to back away from him,” Brady added. “He got into his truck, and as he was leaving, he accelerated toward the store clerk, but she got out of the way.”
The suspect was later seen heading south on I-5 and was then pursued, leading to the fatal incident with Trooper Schaffer.
Justin was born on January 30, 1992, in Glenwood Springs, CO. He graduated from Adna High School in Adna, Washington. Justin received a degree in Criminal Justice from Centralia College.
He began working for the Washington State Patrol on November 12, 2013, as a Trooper Cadet assigned to the Property Management Division.
On January 13, 2014, Justin started his training with the 27th Arming Class. On February 14, 2014, Justin continued his training with the 103rd Trooper Basic Training Class and was commissioned on September 16, 2014, assigned to Morton. On September 1, 2016, Justin was assigned as a certified Drug Recognition Expert. On November 10, 2018, Justin completed K9 training and was a certified K9 handler to his partner “Frankie.” On December 13, 2018, Justin transferred to Chehalis.
Justin, aged 28, Badge #646, had served almost seven years with the State Patrol.
He was the 30th Washington State Patrol member to die in the line of duty.
Justin is survived by his wife, Sandra, his mother and father Sheila and Glenn, his brother Brandon, and his K9 partner Frankie.
A memorial service is pending. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, the Washington State Patrol will work with the family and consider how to best move forward in honoring our lost Trooper appropriately. WSP will make that information available to the public in the days to come.
WSP: “For now, we ask the public to join us as we bow our heads in sadness and feel the beating of so many proud hearts for this fallen hero.”
Comments from Eddie Wren (RS-USA, & ADoNA): A couple of years ago, in my ‘day job’ as the chief instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America, I had the privilege of training one of the Washington State Patrol’s own driver training instructors from their Academy, and by pure coincidence the training route I had selected took us down I-5 and then through the actual town of Chehalis [say “Ki” as in kit: Ki-hay-liss] so this tragic loss is doubly poignant. We offer our most sincere condolences to Justin’s family and colleagues.
In due course, if any family members, colleagues or friends wish to add further information or photographs to this page, in memory of Justin, it would be our privilege to do so. If that is the case, please contact us at Road Safety USA.
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