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As police surrounded his house Tuesday evening, Del Aukerman turned to social media to talk to his friends.
“I saw that he put on Facebook that his house was surrounded, and we talked [online through Facebook] until about eleven [o’clock],” Lee Miller said. “He seemed fine – calm and cool. He said he wasn’t going to fire unless the police tried to do something to him.”
But well after Miller logged off, Aukerman did begin shooting.
What started as a routine delivery of a misdemeanor warrant issued in Oldham County ended with Aukerman dead after a 7-hour standoff culminated in a shootout. Shelbyville Police, who were serving the warrant, said Aukerman answered the door with a “long gun.” Police then sealed off the normally quiet neighborhood and called in special units from Kentucky State Police.
Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, KSP sent a robot to Aukerman’s home, a duplex at 139 Gray Hill Court, southwest of Red Orchard Park.
Aukerman took that as a sign of aggression and started firing on the police. When the altercation ended, Aukerman was dead.
The two, Miller said, had been friends for more than 40 years, and by Wednesday morning he was just trying to wrap his head around the whole thing.
“He said he didn’t come to the door with a gun,” Miller said. “And at that point I don’t see any reason he’d lie. But he said he had food and water, and he was just going to hunker down.”
At that time Miller said he offered to come down and talk to the police outside of Aukerman’s home and possibly help keep the situation from escalating.
“He said his uncle had already tried that, and the police wouldn’t let him even get close. He said I shouldn’t worry about it,” Miller said. “After that is when I went to bed. I thought everything would be fine, at least until the morning. I never thought they’d be shooting for a misdemeanor warrant.”
A good friend, neighbor
Miller said he’d known Aukerman for so long he couldn’t even really remember how they met.
“Growing up, we just kind of all hung out,” he said. “I had a group of friends. We used to hang out at the old Southside [Elementary School]. We used to ride dirt bikes years ago. We’d shoot guns together. He loved street bikes.
“He was just a good guy. Kinda quirky, but highly intelligent. He’d been here [on Gray Hill Court] for quite a while. He was just a really good friend, the kind of guy that would do anything to help you out.”
Aukerman’s neighbors said the same thing.
“When I was mowing my grass or something, he would come over and talk. He’d pet on my dogs,” said David Booth, who has lived in the duplex next to Aukerman for about 10 years. “I thought he was a good person.”
Another neighbor, who declined to give her name, said she didn’t know Aukerman well, but said she had never had any trouble with him.
An avid gun collector, seller
“They’re probably going to find about twenty thousand rounds [of ammunition] in there,” Miller said on Wednesday as the police continued their investigation. “I know they’re going to try to bill it that he had an arsenal, but that’s not the way it was. That’s how he made his living, buying and selling guns and ammunition.”
Aukerman’s Facebook page was dominated by photographs of weaponry of many varieties.
Miller said he, too, sells guns and last year tripled his investment by selling ammunition at one point.
“He [Aukerman] had a lot of guns, sure, but that’s because he was selling them,” Miller said.
Booth said he’d been in to see Aukerman’s collection before, too.
“I knowed he went to gun shows in Louisville and Lexington and sold guns,” he said. “He [Aukerman] said he sold some for three or four thousand dollars. He had this big trailer full of guns.”
‘Paranoid of police’
But Aukerman wasn’t without his issues.
“He was paranoid of the police,” Miller said. “I’m not sure why, I can’t speak for him, but he just didn’t trust them.”
Aukerman served one day of a 45-day sentence in 2012 after pleading guilty to fourth-degree assault in an altercation with a woman at Save-A-Lot in Shelbyville. Aukerman was accused of hitting a woman in the head after she slapped him for spitting in her face.
Miller, who also does some work building displays at Red Orchard Park, was at Aukerman’s street in the bitter cold early Wednesday, just confused about how everything escalated so quickly.
“I would have stayed up later last [Tuesday] night, but I really thought they’d give him a while,” he said. “I mean, I could understand if he was shooting out the windows, but why go in on a misdemeanor warrant?
“I’m not trying to bash the police or anything. What he [Aukerman] did was wrong. When they showed up, he should have just come on out. But he was paranoid of the police. He didn’t trust them, and paranoid people do some weird stuff. It’s not normal to barricade yourself in the house.
“But I really thought they’d just give him more time. He seemed cool and calm.”