After one Auburn Police Division officer was killed and two other officers were injured at an incident early Monday morning, a manhunt brought a suspect into custody, who was later charged with capital murder.
At approximately 2 a.m. of the morning of Monday, May 20, the state Law Enforcement Agency activated a Blue Alert as a manhunt ensued for Grady Wayne Wilkes, a 29-year-old white man. A Blue Alert is issued when an officer has been killed or injured and the suspect is still at large.
Bill Harris, Lee County Coroner confirmed the death of an officer.
"It is my understanding that Auburn police, last night responded to a domestic-disturbance call and came under fire," Harris said. "Two officers were injured, one is in critical condition and tragically one officer has died."
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Police Chief Paul Register gave a brief statement at approximately 5:15 a.m., confirming one officer has died. Chief Register did say the other two officers are expected to make a full recovery.
"This seems to be a citizen who was in need, needing assistance from police," Register said. "And police responded, did their job, and went to that person's aid."
A massive presence of law enforcement collected at Arrowhead Mobile Park Home after multiple gun shots were heard.
An AU Alert was sent out at approximately 12:59 a.m., saying there was a massive police presence at the mobile park home off of Wire Road, which is about five minutes from the Vet School. The alert told people to avoid the area.
Law enforcement gathered at the Auburn soccer field on Wire Road.
A second AU Alert was sent out at approximately 1:49 a.m, with a statement from the Auburn Police Division. According to the statement, officers responded to a domestic-disturbance call located in the 3000 Block of Wire Road.
Officers were met with gunfire from the suspect, who was later identified as Wilkes. The suspect is described as being 6’4”, 215 lbs., with brown hair, hazel eyes, and was last seen wearing shorts.
Before being taken into custody, he was described by APD as armed and dangerous.
APD scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. in the municipal court.
Lee County District Attorney said he will pursue the death penalty.
"Yes," Hughes said. "If you shoot a police officer, we're going to pursue the death penalty. Absolutely."
It was officer William Buechner, who has served in Auburn since 2006, who died after responding to the domestic call. Officer Webb Sistrunk and Officer Evan Elliott were the officers who were injured and are expected to make a full recovery.
Police Chief Register said that the suspect does have a military background but was unable to provide the details of the service record.
The suspect was apprehended in the 900 block of Lee Road 9 at approximately 7 a.m. and was charged with capital murder, three counts of Attempted Murder and Domestic Violence 2nd Degree.
Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said with the charge of capital murder there is currently no bond posted, and he doesn't anticipate one will be posted.
Register said that to his knowledge this is the only time that Auburn has lost an officer in the line of duty.
"I'm not aware of losing an officer on duty in the City of Auburn," Register said. "Certainly in the time that I've been here, in the 31 years."
Mayor Ron Anders was also present at the press conference to offer his support to the families of officer Buechner.
"On behalf of our elected officials and our entire community, we are very sorry that we have lost an officer in the line of duty," Anders said. "To his family we are here with you, we will not leave you and we will stand beside you to help you get through this."
This story is breaking, and The Plainsman will continue to update.
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