ALLEN, Ky. — A third police officer has died after a shootout in a small Eastern Kentucky town on Thursday evening.
The fatal shootings of two officers were announced the morning after the incident, but another officer who had been in critical condition succumbed to his injuries Friday night, Kentucky State Trooper Matt Gayheart confirmed.
Jacob Chaffins, a patrolman for Prestonsburg Police, died Friday, according to a social media post by the department. He was the canine handler for K9 officer Drago, who also was killed during the shootout.
Floyd County Sheriff’s Deputy William Petry, a former state trooper, and Prestonsburg Police Capt. Ralph Frasure, a 39-year law enforcement veteran, also died.
“It’s a small community and not only did we lose a couple of great officers, but we also lost pillars of the community,” Gayheart said. “It’s going to take the community rallying around to get through it.”
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How it happened
Four officers were attempting to serve a warrant to 49-year-old Lance Storz at his home on Main Street when he opened fire with a rifle, according to his arrest citation.
Just before 7 p.m., state [olice received a call to assist, Gayheart said. In addition to troopers, more officers from the Prestonsburg department and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ London and Ashland Offices responded to the scene in Allen, population 166.
About three hours later, Lance Storz, 49, was taken into custody, Gayheart said. He was booked into the Pike County Detention Center about 4:30 a.m. and charged with two counts of murdering a police officer, five counts of attempted murder of a police officer, one count of attempted murder and one count of first-degree assault of a service animal, court records show.
Besides the three officers and dog who were fatally wounded, four other officers were injured along with an emergency management director.
Two of the officers are in stable condition and one was treated and released, according to state police. The civilian injured was still receiving treatment at a hospital as of 4 p.m. Friday.
“They encountered pure hell,” Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt said. “They had no chance.”
Officers were attempting to serve Storz with a warrant after an emergency domestic violence protective order for Storz’s wife was issued on Thursday, court records show.
The state police critical incident response team is investigating the shooting.
“We’re trying to figure out what led up to before the active shooting took place,” Gayheart said Friday evening. Several law enforcement officials remained at the scene of the shooting well into the night, with at least two squad cars littered with bullets being towed away around 7 p.m.
Gov. Andy Beshear described the episode as “a barricade situation involving a shooting,” in a brief statement on Twitter.
The case will be transferred to Floyd Circuit Court and could become a capital case.
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Prior to Chaffins succumbing to his injuries, Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton posted on Facebook that he was “just beginning his career in law enforcement.” His young wife and daughter were in the hospital “grieving” for him, he wrote.
“The City of Prestonsburg wishes to thank everyone for the show of support and community outpouring of love. We will hold our fellow employees up with the reverence they deserve,” Stapleton wrote in the post.
Since Thursday’s shooting, there’s been an outpouring of support on social media by the public, police departments and public officials across the state for the officers and first responders involved.
“Please keep the families of these brave officers in your prayers. Our law enforcement exhibited unimaginable heroism and sacrifice last night in the face of evil,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron posted on Facebook Friday.
A procession to bring home officers Petry and Frasure from Frankfort was held Friday evening, involving dozens of emergency vehicles from departments across the region.
More than an hour away from Prestonsburg, a flag hung from an overpass with squad cars, ambulances and fire trucks dotting intersections along Mountain Parkway. Families stood at the edge of their driveways, and couples pulled off to the side of the road, waiting to pay their respects.
As the hearse and ambulance carrying the fallen officers approached the city limits, a light mist began to fall and a massive flag attached to cranes hung across the roadway.
The Associated Press and Courier Journal reporter Lucas Aulbach contributed.