Sheriff John Hunt fought back tears as he said goodbye to his old friend, William Petry, one of three law enforcement officers killed in an ambush while serving a warrant in eastern Kentucky last week.
The small Appalachian county that Hunt is charged with protecting is reeling from the deaths of officers, who were met with a hail of bullets from a gunman hiding in his home Thursday night. Petry, a veteran officer who joined the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office after retiring from the state police a few years ago, was honored Tuesday during an emotional funeral.
“William loved enforcing the law. He loved the job. He loved people,” Hunt said in a eulogy for the old friend of his on Tuesday morning. “He is a hero…and I know he will never be forgotten.”
The shooting is likely the deadliest incident in Kentucky for law enforcement in nearly 100 years. Petry and Prestonsburg Police Capt. Ralph Frasure, both 60, died at the scene and Prestonsburg Officer Jacob Chaffins, 28, died at a hospital Friday night. A police dog was also fatally shot.
The man arrested in their deaths, Lance Storz, 49, was taken into custody in the small community of Allen after family members helped police secure his rendition Thursday night.
Dozens of uniformed police officers gathered Tuesday for the funeral at Prestonsburg’s Mountain Arts Center. Petry’s family authorized the media to broadcast the event live on local news stations. Frasure, Chaffins and the police dog, Drago, will be laid to rest after funeral services later this week.
Floyd County Deputy Kevin Thacker said he received a phone call from Petry last week, a typical problem for a towed car, he said. But at the end of the call, as it had become a ritual, Petry told him that she loved him.
“Those were his last words to me,” Thacker said at the funeral. “And i will never forget”.
Police went to the Allen home Thursday after a family member called to say Storz’s wife was being held at the home against her will and being abused, Hunt said at a news conference during the Weekend. The wife was waiting for them when they arrived and she told officers that Storz was asleep, so he was able to get out. Four officers, including Petry, returned to serve a protective order against Storz, Hunt said. Storz watched them approach from a window and began firing, Hunt said.
The officer deaths were the most in a single incident since a 1923 prison riot in Eddyville that left three corrections officers dead, Prestonsburg Deputy Police Chief Ross Shurtleff said Sunday. Storz faces three counts of murder of a police officer and is being held in jail on $10 million cash bail.
Petry’s death will be a great loss for the department, Hunt said, because he worked so well with younger, inexperienced officers who revered his experience and calm.
The young officers “respected him like no one I’ve seen in such a short time,” Hunt said.
Four other officers were injured in the shooting, although none were life-threatening, state police said over the weekend. A civilian was also injured in the shooting, state police said.
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