The suspect in an hourslong shooting that killed three law enforcement officers and injured several others in eastern Kentucky was charged Friday with several counts of murder, including murder of a police officer, and assault on a service animal, officials said.
Lance Storz, 49, was arraigned in Floyd County court Friday morning when the charges against him were explained. A judge set his bond at $10 million cash.
It is unclear whether Storz, who appeared via video with multiple bruises and lacerations on his face, has an attorney. The judge said he would appoint a public defender to represent him in future hearings.
Deputies on Thursday evening were serving a warrant related to a domestic violence incident in the city of Allen when Storz opened fire with a high-powered rifle, Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt told reporters following the hearing.
“They encountered … pure hell when they arrived. They had no chance,” the sheriff said, adding later the deputies had not even made contact with the suspected shooter when the gunfire began.
The shooter seemed to have had a plan and “pretty much executed that plan almost to precision,” Hunt said. The sheriff said it took several hours to figure out where the gunman was firing from. He also had “a lot” of ammunition and a body armor vest, Floyd County officials said during a Sunday news conference.
“(The suspect) was a sheer terrorist … he was just a terrorist on a mission,” the sheriff said.
The Sheriff’s Office identified the officers killed as Floyd County Deputy William Petry and Prestonsburg Police Capt. Ralph Frasure. On Friday, the Prestonsburg Police Department said officer and canine handler Jacob R. Chaffins was also killed.
The incident began when the sheriff’s office received a phone call from a woman who claimed to be a relative of the suspect, Hunt said.
“A female at that time stated through a text message some allegations of her being held against her will and she needed help,” Hunt said. The woman told officers she had allegedly been raped by Storz and held against her will for “a number of days.”
Multiple deputies went to do a welfare check at the woman’s residence and serve Storz with an emergency protection order and arrest him.
Many of the deputies who showed up to the residence were shot either as soon as they got out of their patrol cars or through their window, Hunt said.
One official described the incident as a “tactical ambush” and said officers did not know what they were walking into.
Floyd County Attorney Keith Bartley, who was present during the hours-long shooting, was visibly shaken and emotional as he detailed how the events unfolded, saying he found himself in a “war zone.”
In a Facebook post, Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton wrote the city “wishes to thank everyone for the show of support and community outpouring of love.” He continued, “We have lost a long-time friend and a 39-year veteran of Law Enforcement in Floyd County, Ralph Frasure, who has left so many loved ones.”
Prestonsburg police released a statement in a Facebook post after Chaffins’ killing.
“You have dedicated your short time on this earth to the service of the citizens of Prestonsburg and the Commonwealth as an EMT, Fire Fighter, and Police Officer. You further dedicated yourself to the security of our country as a valiant soldier,” the department wrote.
A preliminary investigation conducted by the Kentucky State Police has also determined a police dog hit by stray bullets has died as a result of those injuries.
Four peace officers and one civilian were initially reported wounded by state police. Three of the officers—one of whom was Chaffins—were hospitalized, with one in critical condition and the other two in stable condition.
The fourth officer was treated and released. State police said the civilian is still hospitalized.
An EMS director and another person had each lost an eye due to their injuries and had shrapnel wounds, while another deputy had a leg injury that will require further surgeries, officials said.
Bartley said Friday morning: “These are human beings. These are people with children, spouses, moms and dads, their world will never be the same.”
The sheriff said one deputy who took cover under a running patrol vehicle ended up with carbon monoxide poisoning.
“Other officers were injured in other ways, of trying to either get in some kind of position or get out of the position.” said Hunt.
Deputies were eventually able to negotiate with Storz, with assistance from his family, after nearly six hours of active shooting, officials said.
Bartley said “substantially more” charges are fotrthcoming. The initial “charges were done in the middle of a war zone basically.”
Storz, who is in jail in Pike County, is next due in court for a preliminary hearing July 11 at 1:30 p.m.
Officials said Storz used multiple firearms in the attack on law enforcement.
“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. This is a tough morning for our commonwealth,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in a Twitter post Friday.