Moore casket

The casket carrying slain Broadwater County Deputy Sheriff Mason Moore is carried into Three Forks High School to lie in state on May 22. 

Thom Bridge, thom.bridge@helenair.com

"Don't let hate take over your life."

That's what Broadwater County Deputy Sheriff Mason Moore said in a letter to his wife, Jodi Moore, written in case he died in the line of duty.

The husband and father of three was shot and killed early on the morning of May 16 outside Three Forks.

Lloyd Barrus, 61, has pleaded not guilty to the 25 charges filed against him in connection with the killing. After a continuance of a Nov. 13 court appearance, Barrus will next appear in Broadwater County court on Jan. 18. 

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

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Lloyd Barrus, 61, appears in court Friday afternoon at the Broadwater County Courthouse

Lloyd Barrus, 61, appears at the Broadwater County Courthouse in Townsend on 25 felony charges stemming from the killing of Broadwater County Deputy Sheriff Mason Moore in this May 26 file photo.

Officials believe Barrus and his son went out that night seeking a gunfight with law enforcement. Around 2 a.m., Moore attempted to stop the pair as they sped north on Highway 287 and a pursuit ensued. About six minutes into the pursuit, the deputy started taking gunfire from the Barrus' vehicle. 

Dashcam footage shows that Moore survived his initial gunshot wound but died after the assailants turned around and drove right up to where the deputy's car had stopped, firing another two dozen rounds.

The shooting touched off a search that resulted in a high-speed chase across several counties before Barrus and his son engaged officers in a shootout east of Missoula on Interstate 90.

Barrus was arrested after officers shot a Glock 9mm handgun out of his hand while his son, Marshall Barrus, was shot in the head and died the next day.

The charges against Lloyd Barrus include one count of accountability for deliberate homicide in connection with Moore’s death, two counts of accountability for attempted deliberate homicide involving two Butte-Silver Bow police officers, and five counts of attempted deliberate homicide involving a Montana Highway Patrol officer and law officers from four jurisdictions.

“It's difficult to adequately describe how devastating it feels to lose one of our own in the line of duty," said Broadwater County Sheriff Wynn Meehan. "Our deputy died protecting the citizens of our county and displayed remarkable courage until the very end."

A memorial service that included a several-mile-long procession of law enforcement from Belgrade to Three Forks was held a week after the shooting. Mason Moore's funeral highlighted the key aspects of his life: family, faith and service. His casket bearers included his cohorts from his day job as a deputy and his volunteer service after hours with the Three Forks Fire Department. His pastor, Curtis Crow, told endearing stories of his time with the deputy.

"I've enjoyed every moment of my life with you," Jodi Moore read from the letter penned by her husband. "Enjoy life."

Thom Bridge can be reached at Thom.bridge@helenair.com

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Photo editor at The Independent Record

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