BARDSTOWN — A Bardstown police officer was shot and killed while driving home from work early Saturday.
Kentucky State Police said in a statement that the original call came in early Saturday as a traffic crash on Exit 34 of the Bluegrass Parkway in Nelson County, but when troopers arrived they found that Jason Ellis, 33, had been fatally shot.
Ellis was in uniform and had been driving his cruiser home, according to the statement. State police spokesman Norman Chaffins said the officer was found outside his vehicle. He said he did not know how many times Ellis had been shot.
Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin said at a news conference Saturday morning that Ellis had finished his shift at 2 a.m. Saturday and was driving home in a "pool car" that officers use, the Kentucky Standard reported.
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He told the newspaper that there was no video, and Ellis had not radioed central dispatch before the incident. Chaffins also said there was no radio communication between Ellis and dispatchers in the moments before the shooting.
The pool car was parked on the exit ramp with its blue lights flashing, leading McCubbin to surmise that Ellis might have stopped to clear something blocking the road.
He said the shooting was reported after people who live in the area and were driving home saw the car but no officer and got out of their vehicles to investigate.
State police said in a news release that they were called at 2:53 a.m. with a report of "a fatality crash involving a Bardstown police officer," but that when a trooper arrived at 3:16 a.m. he found that Ellis had been shot.
The exit was shut down as troopers investigated the shooting. Chaffins said police have no suspects in the shooting.
Ellis' body was taken to Louisville for an autopsy.
Nelson County Coroner Rayfield Houghlin told The Courier-Journal that Ellis was shot "multiple times" with a 12-gauge shotgun. Houghlin said the officer's service weapon was in its holster, suggesting the possibility of an ambush.
Bardstown police didn't immediately return a call for comment Saturday but posted an announcement about the shooting on the department's Facebook page.
"It is with a heavy heart that we announce the loss of one of our finest officers," the Facebook statement said. "Officer Jason Ellis started his police career in 2006 at the Bardstown Police Department. He was our K-9 Officer. He was active in the community and quickly earned the respect of his peers. He served Bardstown with dignity and honor. He wore the uniform well, and he will be missed more than mere words can express."
Ellis is survived by a wife and two children.
According to the University of the Cumberlands website, Ellis was a star baseball player when he attended the school and signed with the Cincinnati Reds farm system, playing from 2002 to 2005.
The school's biography says that since becoming an officer, Ellis had twice received the Governor's Award for Impaired Driving Enforcement and also was named Officer of the Year in 2008.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at Barlow Funeral Home in Bardstown.