Senate votes to rename highway for slain State Patrol officer

Measure would rename segment of State Highway 6 for Trooper Justin R. Schaffer, killed near Chehalis in 2020

Trooper Justin R. Schaffer. /Source: Washington State Patrol

OLYMPIA – A bill renaming a segment of State Highway 6 for a State Patrol officer struck and killed by a fleeing robbery suspect near Chehalis has been approved by the state Senate.

Senate Joint Memorial 8008 passed the Senate 48-0 last week and moves to the House for further consideration.

Justin R. Schaffer, 28, was one of several state troopers who attempted to stop a high-speed chase March 24, 2020, by laying out spike strips on Interstate 5. Police were on the tail of robbery suspect William David Thompson, who reached speeds of more than 100 mph in his Ford pickup. He swerved around the strips and veered directly toward Schaffer, striking him and killing him.

Moments later, Thompson targeted a second patrolman and hit his car instead. Eventually Thompson lost control of his truck and crashed. He was arrested after an hour-and-a-half standoff with police. Thompson, 41, was sentenced in 2022 to 45 years in prison for murder and attempted murder.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, offers “six miles of remembrance” for Schaffer by renaming a stretch of highway passing through the community of Adna, where Schafer grew up and lived with his wife Sandra. The segment would become known as the Justin R. Schaffer Memorial Highway.

“His job was to serve us,” Wilson said. “Our job is to never stop remembering Trooper Justin Schaffer.”

Schaffer graduated from Adna High School and Centralia College, where he earned an Associate of Arts Degree in criminal justice. He was commissioned as an officer with the Patrol in 2014. Special assignments included work as an instructor, a drug recognition expert and a canine handler.

In testimony before the Senate Transportation Committee, Schaffer’s father Glenn, a former Chehalis police chief, said his son landed his “dream job” when he joined the Washington State Patrol. Renaming the highway is “a great honor for a young man who did so much for the citizens of the state,” he said.

State Patrol Chief John Batiste told the committee Schaffer was a rising star in the State Patrol. “Justin came to us as a young man with much promise, very ambitious. Every stretch of the assignment that he could think of, he got in and he excelled. We lost him way too soon.”

Schaffer and K-9 Frankie with State Patrol Chief John Batiste in 2018. /Source: WSP