Allen, Kentucky is a place that holds fond memories for me. When I was only 16, Allen Baptist Church invited me to speak for a weekend youth event. I had the opportunity to meet and work with over a hundred people from the Allen community. Lasting friendships were made with some of the finest people on earth. To this day, the kindness and fellowship bestowed on me by that group of people were instrumental in my life’s direction.
Sadly, even the finest communities and dearest people on earth can experience pure hell. Mental illness erupted as three Floyd County police officers were shot dead in Allen last week. According to news reports they were trying to serve a warrant to a 49-year-old man accused of domestic violence.
Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt said the officers faced ”pure hell” when they arrived at the man’s home.
Four other people were injured at the scene in Allen, a small town of 166 people located just outside of Prestonsburg.
The officers who died in the shooting late on Thursday have been named as Capt. Ralph Frasure, Deputy William Petry and dog handler Jacob Chaffins. K-9 Drago, one of the dogs that Mr. Chaffins handled, also died.
Capt. Frasure had been with the Prestonsburg, Ky., Police Department for 39 years. The department said he had served “with honor and glory up until the last second.”
The men ran into a barrage of gunfire from a rifle when they went to the house on Main Street shortly before 6 EST.
The shooting continued for nearly three hours before suspect Lance Storz was taken into custody, having surrendered after negotiations involving members of his family.
He has been charged with three counts of murdering a police officer, five counts of attempted murder of a police officer, one count of attempted murder and one count of first-degree assault on a service animal.
The families and friends of the slain police officers and the wounded officers have been forever changed. The community of Allen will forever be scarred by one of the worst events to ever occur in the state of Kentucky.
Gun violence is not limited to age. An assault rifle in the hands of any mentally deranged person results in tragedy.
Police officers have a scary job. It’s no wonder they are nervous and seem sometimes quick to pull their weapons. Floyd county officers walked into a situation and were totally caught off guard. Looking back, they would approach Storz differently. A miscalculation too often is fatal. In the moments of what appears to be just another day of work or life, the worst tragedies can happen.
Allen is a wonderful Eastern Kentucky town. The town is filled with beautiful, loving people. Evil at the highest level can exist and erupt in any place. It’s not limited to a big city hundreds of miles away. This is why all communities, sheriff’s departments, schools and churches must be vigilant in being aware of the ongoing dangers of America’s growing mental illness epidemic. Ignoring our cultural mental illness dilemma will only perpetuate ongoing fatalities.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is an author and his column is published weekly in over 600 publications in all 50 states.