Undeterred by strong winds and rain, members of the community joined fallen Washington State Patrol Trooper Justin R. Schaffer’s family and colleagues in unveiling a monument erected in Schaffer’s honor at the WSP office in Chehalis Wednesday morning.
“This memorial will honor Justin and serve as a reminder of the sacrifice he made while doing the job that he loved,” said WSP Capt. Jason Linn at the unveiling ceremony, held on the one-year anniversary of Schaffer’s death.
He was fatally struck by a vehicle while placing spike strips on Interstate 5 in Chehalis during a pursuit of a robbery suspect.
“It’s been a tough year, none much tougher than March 24 one year ago today when we lost a wonderful, wonderful young man,” said WSP Chief John Batiste. “As you can see by this beautiful monument, it’ll forever restore his million-dollar smile. This will be a place of refuge folks can come for a moment of reflection and remembrance of a great young man.”
Schaffer, 28, was born on Jan. 30, 1992, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. He graduated from Adna High School and later received a degree in criminal justice from Centralia College.
Schaffer began working for the Washington State Patrol on Nov. 12, 2013 and had served the agency for seven years at the time of his death.
He completed K9 training in November 2018 and was a certified K9 handler to his partner, Frankie, who retired from active service after Schaffer’s death and currently lives with Schaffer’s family.
The pair were transferred to Chehalis on Dec. 13, 2018.
Schaffer was the 30th member of the Washington State Patrol to die in the line of duty, and the first to die in the line of duty in Lewis County.
He is survived by his wife Sandra, brother Brandon and his parents, Glenn and Sheila.
William Thompson, the Olympia man accused of leading multiple law enforcement agencies on a chase down Interstate 5 and ultimately killing Schaffer, was found competent to stand trial last November.
On the same day that court order was entered, Thompson, 40, pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree aggravated murder, first-degree attempted murder and four counts of first-degree assault among seven other offenses, according to court records.
Thompson is accused of intentionally hitting and killing Schaffer.