Editor's note:

The following is the Opelika-Auburn News' original series of reports in reverse-order fashion, from when real-time live reporting on this story began around midnight Sunday until the suspect's first court appearance on Tuesday.



Bond denied

Bond for capital murder suspect Grady Wayne Wilkes was denied Tuesday afternoon in Lee County Circuit Court.

A suspect facing capital murder charges is not entitled to bond.

More details from this afternoon's hearing will be reported soon.


Military record confirmed;

domestic violence strangulation/suffocation among charges

Capital murder suspect Grady Wayne Wilkes has served as an active member of the Alabama Army National Guard since December 2010.

Wilkes, charged in the Sunday night shooting of three Auburn police officers, is an infantry fire team leader and holds the rank of corporal, Lt. Col. Tim Alexander, director of public affairs for the Alabama Army National Guard, confirmed for the Opelika-Auburn News.

Wilkes has no record of having been deployed, Alexander said.

Wilkes is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon. He is charged with capital murder, three counts of attempted murder and domestic violence strangulation/suffocation, according to court records.

--Sara Palczewski


Twitter support

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn: 

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of officer William Buechner and the Auburn Police Department during this difficult time. Also praying for a speedy recovery for Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott. Very appreciative of those that protect and serve our community each day!"

Auburn University President Steven Leath:

"Janet and I extend our most heartfelt sympathy to the family of Officer William Buechner. We also send our support to the Officers recovering from injury. The family is grateful for the police officers who serve and protect our community each day."

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox:

" prayers are with and PD in the tragic loss of Officer William Buechner. For the remainder of the week, the lights at City Hall will be orange and blue in his memory."

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency

"The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's thoughts and prayers are with the Auburn Police Department and the friends and families of fallen Officer Buechner and injured Officers Sistrunk and Elliot."

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey:

"We offer our support & prayers to Officer William Buechner’s family & to the 2 officers recovering from their injuries. I commend law enforcement officers for successfully capturing the shooter to ensure the safety of the many residents in the Auburn area."


Governor orders flags to half-staff

A release Monday evening from Gov. Kay Ivey's office stated the following: 

"I am directing flags be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for Auburn Police Officer William Buechner who was killed in the line of duty, after responding to a call late Sunday night.

"Officer Buechner laid down his life protecting the people of Auburn, and the entire state of Alabama mourns this tremendous loss.

"The flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset on Saturday, May 25, 2019."


Video added

See video below for comments shared in Monday morning's press conference.


Press conference

Latest summary:

Three Auburn police officers were shot, one killed, and an overnight manhunt for the military-veteran suspect considered armed and extremely dangerous continued Monday morning by dozens of law enforcement agencies until the suspect was caught hours later.

The man arrested was found about a mile away from where the incident unfolded late Sunday night off Wire Road in south Auburn, in what started as a police response to a call of domestic disturbance.

Veteran Auburn police officer William Buechner, on the force since April 2006, was killed.

Auburn officers Webb Sistrunk, serving since 2011, and Evan Elliott, serving less than a year on the Auburn force, were both shot and injured, but expected to recover from their injuries.

Arrested at about 7 a.m. Monday and facing numerous charges, including capital murder, is Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, of Auburn, who has a military background, but few other details are being released by police at this stage of the investigation.

Auburn Mayor Ron Anders and Police Chief Paul Register led a Monday morning press conference praising the work of the officers and other law enforcement officials for their valiant service, and asked the community for continued prayers, both for the police involved and for the community as a whole.

Meanwhile, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said there would be no doubt that his office would seek the death penalty for the suspect if convicted.



Press conference

Auburn police chief Paul Register and other officials are in a press conference and sharing additional details.

Register asks for continued thoughts and prayers for the entire community; and certainly the police officers involved.

Officer killed was a veteran, proven officer.

District Attorney Brandon Hughes, asked about seeking death penalty:

"Yes. If you shoot a police officer, we’re going to pursue the death penatity.  Absolutely."



Press conference slated

An press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. should be starting shortly. Updates to follow.



Posted from the Tallapoosa County Sheriff's Office:

"Please join us in offering many prayers for the family of the slain Auburn Police Officer and the injured Officers speedy recovery. Remember all those affected; Officers, Dispatchers, EMS, Command, Auburn and Community."


Coroner's press statement:

The following information was released in a Monday morning press statement from Lee County Coroner Bill Harris:

"At approximately 10:40 PM Sunday night, Auburn Police responded to a domestic disturbance call in a mobile home park in the 3000 block of Wire Road.

"When officers arrived a suspect opened fire on the officers, striking three of them. Two of the officers suffered critical injuries and one suffered non-life threatening injuries.

"One officer was air lifted to a Columbus, GA hospital. The other two were transported via ground ambulance to East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika where one of those officers died from his injuries.

"The names of the officers are not being released at this time pending notification of all family members and all of the police family..." 


Auburn police are reporting that the suspect, Grady Wayne Wilkes, is in custody, according to an AU Alert sent by Auburn University. 

The message from the alert system states, "police report the suspect in the off-campus shooting is in custody. ALL CLEAR."


Auburn Police Chief Paul Register stated during an early morning news conference that the two injured law enforcement officers are expected to recover.

He added, “this is probably the worst day of my time here.”

Register stated that the suspect, Grady Wayne Wilkes, was not someone who was on Auburn police’s radar.

Wilkes is still considered armed and dangerous, Register stated.

He added that numerous law enforcement agencies are on the scene helping to locate Wilkes. Agencies include the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Opelika Police Department, state law enforcement and federal law enforcement, according to Register.

No other information was available at the time of the news conference, however, Register said there will be an update later Monday, “probably this afternoon.”


State police update suspect description:

"A Blue Alert is activated when a local, state or federal law enforcement officer in Alabama has been killed or seriously injured and the perpetrator is at large.

"The State of Alabama has issued an Emergency BLUE Alert. The Auburn Police Department and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency ask for your assistance in locating Grady Wayne Wilkes.

"Wilkes is a white male, 6’4”, 215 pounds, and is believed to be a serious risk to the public. Wilkes was last seen wearing camo clothing with body armor and a helmet at Arrow Head Trailer Part in Auburn, Alabama around 11:30 pm on May 19, 2019.

"If you have any information regarding Wilkes, please contact the Auburn Police Department at 334-501-3100 or call 911."


One officer has died and two others are injured, at least one critically, in Sunday night's shooting in Auburn, a source has confirmed to the Opelika-Auburn News.

No identities are released yet of the officers shot, and the source asked to remain unidentified.

The three officers were shot while responding to a domestic disturbance at Arrowhead Mobile Home park off Wire Road, south of Auburn.

The suspect remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous. Details below:


JUST POSTED from Auburn Police Department:

"On May 19, 2019, at about 1010 pm APD Officers responded to a Domestic Disturbance at a residence located in the 3000 Block of Wire Road.

"Once on scene officers were met with gun fire from a white male suspect, later identified as Grady Wayne Wilkes, age 29.

"The suspect is described as being 6’4”, 215 lbs., with brown hair, hazel eyes, and was last seen wearing shorts.

"Responding officers were injured by gun fire and were transported to local hospitals. Their conditions are not being released at this time. The suspect fled and is still at large. He is considered armed and dangerous.

"Citizens are urged to avoid the 3000 block of Wire and to report any suspicious activity to police immediately.


Multiple gunshots were heard and residents were told to shelter in place as dozens of law enforcement officials descended upon Arrowhead I Mobile Home park late Sunday night off Wire Road south of Auburn.

The area was blocked off as helicopters and a massive law enforcement presence assembled into the early morning hours of Monday.

"I heard six shots, rapid-fire like it was an automatic weapon, and then there was a brief pause, maybe a second, and then three more single shots," a woman living in the mobile home park who asked to not be publicly identified told the Opelika-Auburn News.

Silence followed, "and less than five minutes later there were sirens, and they kept coming," she said.

The woman went out to talk with a neighbor next door when police officers began running up and down the streets, she said, and the residents were told they needed to shelter in place.

"I'm locked inside with all my lights on," the woman said on the phone during the incident. "I was laying on my floor, and now I'm in my bathroom."

Multiple ambulances also responded, witnesses said, with at least one later quickly exiting with its siren on.

Wire Road, also known as Lee Road 137, remained filled with law enforcement into the early morning hours Monday.

Auburn, Opelika, Lee County officers, with at least one unconfirmed report of an FBI presence were all reported on scene by residents.

The incident developed only a few miles from a similar massive response in February on Wire Road after an Auburn police officer was shot during a traffic stop of a robbery suspect and the suspects later were found in an apartment complex.

Officers from multiple agencies, including a special task force, engaged that night in heavy gunfire at Crossland Downs apartment complex on Stonegate Drive, off Wire Road.

The chaotic scene and sound of steady gunfire led to first responders quickly evacuating residents there and warning others nearby and across from the Auburn University vet school to shelter-in-place.

The injured police officer survived that incident and continues to recover, but the two suspects perished after the shootout and a fire in the apartment where they sought refuge.

Auburn University at about 1 a.m. Monday in the current police action issued a text and 911 phone alert:

"Massive police presence near Arrowhead Mobile Home Park off of Wire Rd, approx 5 miles west of Vet School. Avoid area until further notice."


Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He previously served as the news editor in New York for the nation's second largest newspaper company, and as the senior editor at several other news entities around the nation. He is an Auburn alum.

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