Early morning shooting in Auburn leads to first officer death in 30+ years, police chief says

One officer died at East Alabama Medical Center, two others recovering at area hospitals

Early morning shooting in Auburn leads to first officer death in 30+ years, police chief says
Officer William Buechner was shot and killed Sunday night in Auburn. (Source: Auburn Police Division)

AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - Auburn Police Chief Paul Register says the officer-involved shooting on Wire Rd. led to the first officer killed in the line of duty during his 31 years of service.

Auburn Police Officer William Buechner was tragically shot and killed, according to officials. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris confirms Buechner was airlifted from the scene but later passed away at an area hospital.

Two other Officers, Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott, were also shot and injured in the incident. They are both expected to recover.

Officers Webb Sistrunk (left) and Evan Elliott (right), injured in deadly Auburn shooting
Officers Webb Sistrunk (left) and Evan Elliott (right), injured in deadly Auburn shooting (Source: Auburn Police Department)

Auburn Police spent much of the night looking for suspect Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29. Police say Wilkes opened fire on officers responding to a domestic disturbance at a home in the 3000 block of Wire Rd. just after 10:00 p.m. CST.

Wilkes was taken into custody around 7 a.m. Monday in the 900 block of Lee Road 9, within a mile of where the shooting happened. The capture came after citizens reported suspicious activity.

Wilkes, “who was in the military for a number of years,” worked locally and did not have any prior dealings with the Auburn Police Department prior to Sunday’s shooting, Chief Register said.

Wilkes has been charged with capital murder, three counts of attempted murder and second-degree domestic violence. He is currently being held in the Lee County Jail.

Speaking on the charges Wilkes faces, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said, "yes, if you shoot a police officer, we are going to pursue the death penalty, absolutely.”

Grady Wayne Wilkes
Grady Wayne Wilkes (Source: Auburn Police Department)

Buechner, was a veteran Officer, having served with the Auburn Police Department since April 2006. Officer Webb Sistrunk, an accomplished K-9 officer, has served since April 2011 and Elliott since July 2018.

Auburn Mayor Ron Anders and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey have both released statements in recognition of the loss suffered by the community and Officer Buechner’s family. Read their full statements by clicking here.

Governor Ivey has also issued a statewide directive to fly flags at half-staff in order to honor the fallen hero.

Officials with the Auburn Police Department held a noon press conference that you can watch below.

WATCH LIVE: Lee County officials holding press conference after deadly shooting of an Auburn officer. >>> https://bit.ly/2JtMbJq

Posted by WTVM News Leader 9 on Monday, May 20, 2019

News Leader 9 has also obtained a copy of the dispatch call that you can listen to here.

Watch the full press conference below from earlier Monday morning, below.

Assistant Police Chief Gil Slouchik with the Columbus Police Department released a statement, saying

“Our prayers are with Officer William Buechner’s family and the Auburn Police Department. We are here if they need us . Anytime you lose a law enforcement officer, it’s like losing a brother or sister; it affects everyone in the community. We are glad the suspect is in custody and is no longer a danger to the community.”

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