Nelson Co. gripped in fear after officer's killing

Officer Jason Ellis (Source: Bardstown Police Department)
Officer Jason Ellis (Source: Bardstown Police Department)

BARDSTOWN, KY (WAVE) – People who live in Nelson County are gripped in fear after the ambush murder of Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis early Saturday morning.

Ellis was shot multiple times with a 12-gauge shotgun from a hilltop after he stopped to remove debris from the ramp at exit 34 off the Bluegrass Parkway leading to Highway 55, according to the coroner's office. The shooting happened just before 3 a.m. Saturday.

Kentucky State Police, which is handling the investigation, calls the shooting "premeditated."

"Someone planned this," said Kentucky State Police Trooper Norman Chaffins. "Someone planned to shoot somebody at that location at that time."

Chaffins said no one knows whether Ellis, police in general or anyone taking exit 34 was targeted.

"You hear about things like that in bigger cities," said resident Catherine Leake, "not in smaller towns like this, so it's a scary thought."

One woman said she used to leave her doors unlocked, but she used her deadbolt Saturday night. She said she no longer feels safe in her own neighborhood.  "I'm scared to walk now at night by myself because you never know," said the woman, who wanted to remain anonymous.

Flags in Bardstown are at half-staff, and Officer Ellis' police cruiser has turned into a memorial outside Bardstown Police headquarters. Numerous baseballs have been left there. Officer Ellis coached little league, and before he became a Bardstown police officer, he played professional baseball with the Cincinnati Reds' farm teams in Sarasota, FL and Billings, MT.

The memorial also includes notes scribbled on the windows of the car, candles, and dozens of flowers.

K-9 trainer Jerry Hardin says even Ellis' dog can sense the loss. Ellis was Bardstown's only K-9 officer. "He's usually high-strung and wants to bounce around and play a lot," Hardin said of Figo. "He's not doing that today. He just he knows something is wrong because he knows Jason is always with them, and now Jason is not with him."

KSP announced on Saturday that a $6,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of Officer Ellis' killer or killers. Chaffins said investigators are entertaining the possibility that more than one person is responsible for the killing.

So far, police do not have any suspects in mind. Anyone with information can text a tip to KSP's text messaging number 67283.  Put "KSPTIP" in the message field, then a space, and then enter the tip.

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