Hero Down: Auburn Police Officer William Buechner Murdered By Gunman
Auburn, AL – Auburn Police Officer William Buechner died in the line of duty on Sunday night, after he was fatally shot while responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Auburn police responded to a trailer park in the 3000-block of Wire Road at approximately 10:40 p.m., The Birmingham News reported.
"Once on scene, officers were met with gunfire from a white male suspect, later identified as Grady Wayne Wilkes, age 29,” the Auburn Police Department (APD) said in a press release.
Wilkes, who was allegedly wearing body armor and a helmet during the fatal encounter, shot three of the officers during the attack.
Thirty-seven-year-old Officer Buechner, a 13-year veteran-of-the-force, was airlifted to East Alabama Medical Center, the Daily Mail reported.
He succumbed to his wounds in the emergency room.
Wilkes is also accused of shooting Auburn Police Officer Webb Sistrunk and Officer Evan Elliott, police said.
Officer Sistrunk has been with the Auburn Police Department (APD) since 2011, WMC reported. He remains hospitalized in serious condition, but is expected to recover.
Officer Elliot joined the force in 2018, and was treated and released to recover at home.
Additional officers responded to the call, but were uninjured.
Auburn Police Chief Paul Register would not say if the officers returned fire when they came under attack, The Birmingham News reported.
"It was a simple domestic disturbance," Chief Register said, according to USA Today. "You always hear that they are one of the most dangerous kinds of calls officers go to, and it played out to that effect tonight."
Details of the original domestic disturbance call have not been released, but the woman involved in the initial report was not injured, according to WFLD.
Multiple local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies joined the search for Wilkes, who was not known to the police department prior to the shooting, OAN reported.
Wilkes was arrested in the 900-block of Lee Road 9 – approximately one mile away from the scene of the shooting – just before 7:15 a.m. on Monday.
He did not resist arrest, and cooperated with officers once he was taken into custody, Chief Register said.
Wilkes has been charged with three counts of attempted murder, capital murder, and second-degree domestic abuse.
“When you shoot a police officer, we’re going to pursue the death penalty,” Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said, according to The Birmingham News. “Absolutely.”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey called the attack on the Auburn officers “tragic and so useless,” the Associated Press reported.
“I’m just heartbroken,” she said.
"It's a great responsibility to tell you what a sad day this is for our community," Auburn Mayor Rob Anders said, according to The Birmingham News. "On behalf of our elected officials and our entire community, we're very sorry that we have lost an officer in the line of duty."
"Three courageous young men…went to protect us," Anders continued, according to WLS. "We're very sorry that we have lost an officer in the line of duty. 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."
Chief Register said that Officer Buechner’s murder marked the single “worst day of my time here.”
“Words cannot express the loss for this family, and our family, and this community," the Chief Register added.
The chief said that Officer Buechner was “well-liked” and “respected” by his peers, WFLD reported.
“If you do a job for 13 years, I think that in itself says a lot about the dedication of that officers,” he said. “I think it’s just typical of what we have here.”
Officer Buechner leaves behind his wife, his teenage daughter, and his infant son, according to the Daily Mail.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Auburn Police Officer William Buechner, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer William Buechner, your life mattered.