Gov. Steve Bullock signed House Bill 156 into law Monday, dedicating mile marker 109 on Highway 287 to Mason Moore, a Broadwater County deputy slain in the line of duty in 2016.
The bill, carried by Rep. Julie Dooling, R-Helena, allows for a visual reminder of a tragic night. Moore was allegedly killed by Marshall and Lloyd Barrus on May 16, 2017, in Broadwater County. The two men had anti-law enforcement views and were determined to go on what prosecutors deemed a "suicide mission" that ended after a high-speed chase through several counties, with Marshall Barrus dead and Lloyd in state custody.
In the ensuing investigation, law enforcement officials determined Moore's vehicle had been shot at some 29 times and that the Barruses had made a U-turn to kill the deputy on the highway before fleeing west.
"There are some bill signings you wouldn't want to have," Bullock said. "This is one of them."
Bullock noted Moore's "courage, commitment and sacrifice" while he spoke. "He will be greatly missed.
"Montanans and visitors to the state will recognize the honor," with Moore's name on the highway, Bullock said.
Rep. Dooling said the point of the memorial was not to commemorate a "tragedy," but rather to be in "remembrance of a good man."
"He was doing his job," Dooling said. "You have to admire a man living his dream.
"Jodi and the kids have to pass by the spot a couple times a day. I can't imagine that," Dooling said.
Dooling said usual practice for memorial highways is to set a few miles as the memorial, but the family's wishes were only for the mile marker sign. "It's indicative of their character," Dooling said.
Broadwater County Sheriff Wynn Meehan said the memorial was a "place to recognize" the sacrifice of Mason Moore. He recognized the sheriff's deputies who appeared at the Capitol in their dress browns and said that during the bill process, he felt they had been "part of something bigger."
Meehan said the ceremony for the unveiling of the memorial would take place sometime in early May, most likely before the two-year anniversary of Moore's death.
Jodi Moore, Mason's widow, made her way up from Three Forks for the signing.
"It's emotional," she said. "It's been a roller coaster."
Jodi Moore now runs a foundation in Mason Moore's name dedicated to supporting law enforcement throughout Montana via communication, grants and public education.
"I think I've tried to think of it as a good place," Moore said about the mile marker. "I tell the kids that's where Mason earned his angel wings and defeated evil.
"I think this will just help reinforce that," Jodi Moore said.