Auburn, AL – Vandals struck at the grave of a recently fallen Auburn Police Department officer on Monday.
Officer Buechner was murdered at about 10:40 p.m. on May 20, 2019 when he responded to domestic disturbance call at a trailer park in the 3000-block of Wire Road, 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 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 also shot and wounded Auburn Police Officers Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott, police said.
"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."
Wilkes fled the scene after he shot the officers but was apprehended later the same day after multiple law enforcement agencies engaged in an exhaustive manhunt.
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."
Legislation that would make the murder of a first responder a capital offense is now pending in the Alabama State House and has been named after Officer Buechner, WRBL reported.
Officer Buechner’s funeral was held in the Auburn University Arena on May 24, 2019 and then he was buried in a private service at the Town Creek Cemetery, according to WFSA.
The fallen hero’s grave marker has not yet been installed so a Thin Blue Line flag was set up in place of a headstone and American flags surrounded the discolored area on the grass where the casket was buried, WRBL reported.
On Monday, it was discovered that the grave had been vandalized.
The flags had been torn out of the ground and some of the flowers at the gravesite had been torn up and tossed around, WRBL reported.
It wasn’t yet known if a police report had been filed about the tampering.