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In the cold, dark pre-dawn hours Wednesday in a south Shelbyville neighborhood, the sound of gunshots split the night when a man barricaded in his home for hours finally opened fire at police.
Del Aukerman was killed after the 7-hour standoff with police at his home at 139 Gray Hill Court that began when officers tried to serve him with a warrant on misdemeanor charges.
When police approached the house to gain entrance shortly before 2 a.m., Aukerman opened fire, and police fired back, killing Aukerman in his home.
Though windows were shattered in patrol cars and other vehicles surrounding the single-story brick duplex on the quiet cul-de-sac, no one else was hit by bullets.
Shelbyville Police Chief Danny Goodwin said that at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, when officers attempted to serve Aukerman with an Oldham County warrant, he met them at the door with a long gun.
“Our officers were confronted by a man who pointed a weapon at them, at which point, they sealed off the area and we made contact with the Kentucky State Police that we had a possible barricaded subject in a home,” Goodwin said.
KSP negotiators tried to get Aukerman to give himself up, and police evacuated the neighborhood as best they could, Goodwin said.
“As soon as he barricaded himself in, we set up a perimeter around the home and began to get the people on the street out of the area,” he said.
Officers evacuated between 10 to 15 households in the area surrounding the duplex where Aukerman lived.
“We asked them [residents] to leave,” he said. “If they didn’t have a place to go, we had coordinated with Paul [Whitman, emergency management agency director] to set up an alternate location where they could go, but the ones that did leave had someplace they preferred to go to. There were some people that absolutely didn’t want to leave, and at that point, I couldn’t force them to leave. We advised them of the danger, but they decided to hunker down.”
Goodwin said the residents who stayed were not in the immediate vicinity.
“At least they weren’t next door or right across the street,” he said.
Aukerman, who was known to be a collector of guns, was a longtime resident of the neighborhood, located directly southwest of Red Orchard Park.
Hours passed and police negotiators, along with a civilian, Lee Miller, were not able to make any headway with Aukerman on the telephone and in social media. Aukerman was alone in the house, and, finally, the command of KSP’s Special Response Team made the decision to break the door down, KSP Spokesperson Kendra Wilson said.
That’s when the shooting started, she said. Neighbors who were milling in the neighborhood reported the sound of a larger pop, like a shotgun, and then a shorter burst of gunfire before all was quiet.
“When units attempted to gain entry into the residence, the barricaded subject fired numerous times at the officers,” she said. “Officers returned fire, striking and killing the subject. The subject was pronounced dead at the scene by the Shelby County Coroner's Office.”
Shelby County Deputy Coroner Ittin Russell, who pronounced Aukerman dead at 1:59 a.m., said the cause of death was a gunshot wound but that he could not elaborate on how many times he was shot.
The autopsy was performed Thursday morning at the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s office in Louisville.
“I have not had a chance to view the autopsy report yet,” he said Thursday afternoon.
In addition to Shelbyville PD and KSP, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office also sent deputies at the scene to help with traffic control and assist in the evacuation, Goodwin said.
“They [deputies] were fantastic. We worked together very well, and they were very supportive,” he said. “They helped us in regard to traffic and containment of the scene and covered a lot of our calls when we were trying to deal with the situation and we just made sure everybody was safe.”
Said Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong: “We helped block a few streets and we helped take calls for them while they were dealing with that tragic situation. So whatever calls came into dispatch, we took care of them.”
Some neighbors were allowed to go back to their homes at about 10 a.m., but others who lived farther from where KSP had portioned off a crime scene area where kept away for a longer time.
Goodwin said the warrant that his officers tried to serve on Aukerman did not contain felony charges.
“I believe the warrants were for terroristic threatening and harassing communications, multiple counts, is what it was,” he said, adding that the charges stemmed from an altercation Aukerman had been involved in at Save-A-Lot in 2011.
Aukerman’s public defender in La Grange, who had represented him in the Save-A-Lot incident, had pressed charges against him after he made menacing comments to her.
“Everybody’s making a big deal of it [warrant] being a misdemeanor, but once you point a weapon, you move beyond the misdemeanor phase,” Goodman said. “We knocked on the door to execute a misdemeanor warrant, then he escalated that to a felony situation. When he pointed the gun at a police officer, there was a warrant issued for wanton endangerment, first degree.”
No one else was injured in the incident.
The investigation is continuing by KSP investigators.