An Army veteran is facing the death penalty in the murder of a police officer in Alabama, authorities said.
Police in Auburn took Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, into custody in connection with the shooting of three police officers; one officer is dead and two are injured.
Police responded to a 911 call Sunday night at a trailer park in Auburn, Alabama and were met by Wilkes, allegedly who opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, according to police and police dispatch recordings.
“Shots fired! Shots fired! …He’s got an AR! Officer Hit! Officer hit!,” is heard on the police radio dispatch recording.
The officer who was killed was 13-year veteran William Buechner.
Two other officers were injured, “very seriously,” Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott.
Auburn police were joined by scores of other law enforcement in the search for Wilkes during the overnight hours. Residents were warned to be on the lookout.
According to his social media, Wilkes, who goes by his middle name Wayne, was in the Army National Guard E Company, 173rd Infantry Battalion, Long Range Surveillance Company (Airborne).
He also appears to be a father of a young son, based on his Facebook.
He was captured a few miles from the trailer park. It’s reported he had come out searching for water.
Police announced he was charged with capital murder. He will not be given bond. He’s also being charged with three counts of attempted murder and a domestic violence charge. He’ll be held at the Lee County Jail.
When asked, the district attorney told reporters his office would ask for Wiles to be executed, if convicted: “Yes, you shoot a police officer, we’re going for the death penalty, absolutely.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Woman Who Lived in a Trailer Park With Wilkes Called 911 Sunday Night & When Cops Arrived, Wilkes Opened Fire, Police Said
Police officers were responding to a domestic disturbance at Arrowhead Trailer Park off Wire Road on the outskirts of Auburn at around 10:10 p.m. Sunday night. A female who was living with Wilkes called police. When they arrived, were met by an armed man who fired on the three officers. One dead, one treated and released and the third listed in critical or serious condition.
Chief Paul Register said Wilkes, described as being armed and dangerous. Wilkes, white male, 6’4”, 215 pounds, was said to be a serious risk to the public. Wilkes was last seen wearing camo clothing with “body armor and a helmet,” according to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
2. Wilkes, Armed & Wearing Body Armor, Fled Into the Night in an Area Surrounded by Woods. Wilkes Was Captured After Being on the Loose for 9 Hours
Register said the Lee County (Alabama) Sheriff’s Office, the Opelika Police Department, state law enforcement and federal law enforcement were involved in the manhunt.
Register said that Wilkes “wasn’t on the radar,” when asked if he was known to police.
After nine hours on the run, Wilkes was captured around 8:30 Monday morning.
Local media reported that Wilkes was “looking for water …a truck spotted him and he ducked behind a mobile home.”
Auburn University put out an alert about Wilkes being on the loose as the area is close to the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.
3. Wilkes, Former Military Who Both Supported & Criticized Law Enforcement, Wrote About Never Firing a Weapon Without Knowing the Target & Hitting it
In a Facebook post from 2017, Wilkes said, “My brothers, I love each one, I would die for these men and they are my inspiration, each one has their flaws but I know that they have my back and I theirs…”
Wilkes was a member of the Army National Guard’s E Company, 173rd Infantry Battalion, Long Range Surveillance Company (Airborne). On a Facebook post, one had asked if he was re-enlisting.
In a 2017 Facebook post, Wilkes wrote, “The bullet should be traced to the firearm that fired it and that officer should be charged with involuntary manslaughter. This was a careless act, never fire a weapon without having some knowledge of what’s behind the target and if that something is an inhabited structure you need to at least hit your target.”
Comments on that post from shortly after he was captured include: “Wow..smh. But why would you kill an innocent police officer and injure 2 others?!?!!! Now your son will have to grow up without you.. This police officers family will not get to see him any more. What if he had kids??? Its not my job to judge you, but damn dude you making it hard not too. You knew EXACTLY what you were doing. May God have mercy on you and the state of Alabama will no”
Wilkes’ most recent social media includes a photo of he and his son, who appears to have been born in July of 2017. Otherwise, many of his posts are from a few years ago.
In one, he talks about a “run-in with a game warden.”
“Had a run in with the Game warden today…..again, it’s the same pathetic loser that tried to start trouble with me before, I’ve never enjoyed destroying a state employee quite like I do destroying this pathetic amoeba, he wanted to know why I had beer at the river……beer….at the fucking river, he then proceeded to give me an example of where I shouldn’t drink beer, I simply patted him on the shoulder and walked away to the sounds of wah wah wah wah state law……wah wah wah wah…..ticket….”
4. Wilkes Shared His Far Right Political Views on Facebook. Accused of Rape Though No Charges Were Filed, Wilkes Commented About Feminists & Fake Rape While Praising Donald Trump in 2016
Wilkes was accused of rape by a 28-year-old woman in January, AL.com reported, citing court records it had obtained. “Charges were not filed against Wilkes and the order of protection was not granted,” AL.com reported.
Wilkes is a supporter of Pres. Donald Trump and took to Facebook to show his support for Trump policy. Wilkes praised Trump in October of 2016 while blasting “every fragile feminist brain …victims of a bullshit form of rape.”
“Trump makes a comment years ago……triggers every fragile feminist brain in the country……they scream,stomp and swear that they are also victims of some bullshit form of rape that they made up yesterday…..Donald Trump, I drink to you my friend.”
Wilkes shared his political views. He’s an avowed anti-Hillary Clinton Trump supporter and, for example, in 2016 called Haiti a “black hole” and said the nation’s social end economic polices made it a “textbook (example of) natural selection.”
Wilkes often shared Breibart posts and his own candid conservative commentary.
5. The District Attorney Said It’s a Death Penalty Case. Alabama State Police Sent Out a ‘Blue Alert’ For Wilkes
Local media reported that the Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said the case against Wilkes will be a capital one, which could mean the death penalty of there’s a conviction.
When asked, the district attorney said, “Yes, you shoot a police officer, we’re going for the death penalty, absolutely.”
A Blue Alert was activated for Wilkes by state police in the overnight hours. A Blue Alert is used when a local, state or federal law enforcement officer in Alabama has been killed or seriously injured and the perpetrator is at large.
Register said, “This is probably the worst day of my time here …words cannot express the loss…”