Funerals begin for 3 Kentucky officers killed in ambush

The first of three Kentucky police officers killed in an ambush last week has been laid to rest

Sheriff John Hunt fought back tears while saying goodbye to his longtime 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 in charge of protecting is reeling from the deaths of the officers, who walked into a hail of bullets from a gunman holed up in his home Thursday evening. 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 service.

“William loved law enforcement. He loved the job. He loved the people,” Hunt said in a eulogy for his longtime friend Tuesday morning. “He is a hero ... and I know he will never be forgotten.”

The shooting is likely Kentucky's deadliest incident for law enforcement in nearly 100 years. Petry and Prestonsburg police Capt. Ralph Frasure, both 60 years old, died at the scene and Prestonsburg Officer Jacob Chaffins, 28, died in a hospital Friday night. A police dog was also fatally shot.

The man arrested for their deaths, 49-year-old Lance Storz, was taken into custody in the small community of Allen after family members helped police secure his surrender Thursday night.

Dozens of uniformed law enforcement officers gathered Tuesday at the funeral at Prestonsburg’s Mountain Arts Center. Petry's family gave permission for media to livestream the event 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 took a phone call from Petry last week, a typical issue about a towed car, he said. But at the end of the call, as had become ritual, Petry told him he loved him.

“That was his last words to me,” Thacker said at the funeral. “And I'll never forget that.”

Police went to the house in Allen on Thursday after a family member called to say Storz's wife was being held in the home against her will and was being abused, Hunt said in a news conference over the weekend. The wife was waiting for them when they arrived, telling the officers Storz was asleep, so she was able to get outside. Four officers, including Petry, returned to serve a protective order against Storz, Hunt said. Storz watched them approach from a window and began shooting, Hunt said.

The officers' deaths were the most in a single incident since a 1923 prison riot in Eddyville that left three corrections officers dead, Prestonsburg Police Deputy Chief Ross Shurtleff said Sunday. Storz is facing three counts of murder of a police officer and is being held in jail on a $10 million cash bond.

Petry's death will be a huge 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 nobody I’ve ever seen in such a short time," Hunt said.

Four other officers were injured in the shooting, though none wounds were life-threatening, state police said over the weekend. One civilian was also hurt in the shooting, state police said.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in