Three law enforcement officers were killed and five wounded in eastern Kentucky when a man with a rifle opened fire on police attempting to serve a warrant, authorities said.
Police said they had taken 49-year-old Lance Storz into custody late on Thursday night after an hours-long standoff at a home in Allen, a small town in the hills of Appalachia.
An emergency management official was also injured and a police dog was killed, according to the arrest citation.
The responding officers encountered “pure hell” when they arrived on the scene, Floyd county’s sheriff, John Hunt, told reporters on Friday.
“They had no chance,” he said.
Hunt said four deputies initially responded, then called for backup when they were shot at. The sheriff said a suspect surrendered after negotiations that included his family members. Hunt had told local media the deputies were serving a court-issued warrant on Thursday evening related to a domestic violence situation.
Hunt said one of his deputies, William Petry, and Prestonsburg police captain Ralph Frasure were killed in the shooting. Frasure worked for 39 years in law enforcement in Floyd county. Another Prestonsburg officer, Jacob Chaffins, died after being hospitalized, the police department said in a social media post on Friday night.
Storz was arraigned on Friday morning by a judge in Pike county. He pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder of a police officer and was jailed on a $10m bond. One of the charges was originally attempted murder of a police officer, but a judge said at the hearing that was upgraded to murder. He is also facing another attempted murder charge and assault on a service animal.
Few details were available on Friday. State police had said in a brief statement that they were investigating an officer-involved shooting.
“This is a tough morning for our commonwealth,” the governor, Andy Beshear, said in a social media post on Friday morning. “Floyd county and our brave first responders suffered a tragic loss last night. I want to ask all of Kentucky to join me in praying for this community.”
The Kentucky attorney general, Daniel Cameron, posted on social media that he was heartbroken over news of the officers’ deaths.
“Our law enforcement exhibited unimaginable heroism and sacrifice last night in the face of evil,” he said.