Eastern Kentucky University's large Alumni Coliseum will be used for the funeral of Richmond police officer Daniel Ellis who died Friday, less than two days after an ex-convict who fled parole shot him, authorities said.
From within and outside the community, there was an outpouring of support for Ellis' family and colleagues.
"The Richmond Police Department is extremely grateful for the prayers and support that have been extended to Officer Daniel Ellis, his family, friends, and fellow officers," Kentucky State Police trooper Robert Purdy said in the news release announcing Ellis' death. "They ask that you continue to pray for them as they grieve this tremendous loss."
A constant presence at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital in Lexington since Ellis was gravely wounded Wednesday, officers continued to surround Ellis after he died about 2 a.m. Dozens of cruisers escorted his body to the state medical examiner's office in Frankfort and back to Richmond to the Oldham, Roberts & Powell Funeral Home.
"It's just heartbreaking," Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes told The Associated Press. "It's an emotional time for everyone in the community. Those guys work so hard to protect the city."
Ellis is survived by his wife, Katie Elizabeth Gruenwald Ellis, an assistant principal at Madison Central High School, and 4-year-old son, Luke Michael Ellis.
A memorial of flowers and other mementos grew Friday atop Ellis' draped police cruiser outside the police department.
"It's packed with flowers," said Richmond Police Maj. Steve Gregg. "People are driving by and telling us how sorry they are and that we have their support. That means a lot to us."
Ellis was a well-liked officer who was in line for a promotion to detective, he said.
"It's like losing a brother," Gregg said.
Throughout the community, those who knew family members or supported the department were moved to comment or act. Tributes were put online and multiple fund-raisers were organized.
At Madison Central High School, students organized a plan to wear blue Thursday in support of Daniel and Katie Ellis, community education director Erin Stewart said. That plan spread out into the community, and people from "all walks of life" donned the color.
"That was just beautiful to be honest," Stewart said.
Madison County Schools will be cancelled Wednesday in honor of Officer Ellis.
Already on hand for two days at the high school to help students and staff, the school district's crisis response team, which includes school psychologists and guidance counselors, will remain at the school as long as needed, Stewart said.
The pain and compassion stretched beyond Madison County borders. Ellis graduated from Taylor County High School in 2000 and has many relatives living in both Adair and Taylor counties, according to a joint statement from state Rep. Bam Carney and state Sen. Max Wise.
"His senseless death is a tragic loss for our communities and the Commonwealth as a whole," the two said in the statement.
Kentucky's U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray released statements supporting police and Ellis' family.
"Days like today bring into sharp focus the importance of our police officers, the level of their dedication and the true meaning of their sacrifice," Gray said.
Ellis' funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the coliseum, a building more typically used for EKU basketball games. Phillip Shumake, evangelist at Lexington's Church of Christ at East End, will officiate. Visitation is from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the coliseum.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation. Funderburk Building, 521 Lancaster Avenue, Richmond, Ky. 40475-3102.
Ellis, 33, was shot in the head Wednesday morning while investigating an attempted robbery at the Gulf station on Main Street.
The investigation led the seven-year department veteran to Gregory Ratliff's Richmond apartment in search of Raleigh Sizemore Jr., 34. Sizemore hid with Rita Creech, 44, in a bedroom, police said.
Creech told police Sizemore forced her to go into the bedroom by holding a gun to her head, according to police citations. Ratliff told police Sizemore threatened to shoot him if Ratliff let police inside. Sizemore allegedly had told Ratliff he didn't want to return to prison.
Ratliff, 25, admitted to lying to Ellis, telling the officer no one was in the home and no weapons were in the apartment, according to the court citations.
Sizemore admitted to shooting Ellis as Ellis entered the bedroom, according to a police report. He also admitted to firing at other officers as they entered the apartment to help Ellis. Sizemore also was wounded.
Sizemore, who was released from prison in April and absconded parole, was charged Friday with murder of a police officer — upgraded from attempted murder after Ellis died — and two counts of attempted murder of a police officer for allegedly shooting at two other officers after shooting Ellis. Another new charge added was possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. Ratliff was charged with complicity.
Sizemore previously served three years of a 10-year sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine and first-degree criminal mischief, according to state corrections records.
Creech, of Richmond, has been charged with first-degree robbery.
Sizemore has been moved from the Madison County jail to the Kentucky State Reformatory at LaGrange because his presence was a "conflict of interest" for officers that knew Ellis, deputy jailer Jeremy LaGrange said.
Ratliff and Sizemore are at the Madison County jail, LaGrange said.
Creech told police Sizemore attempted to rob a woman at the Gulf station with a gun after being driven there in a Toyota Sienna minivan, according to the police citations. Creech admitted she was in the front passenger seat of the van, and Sizemore told her he lost his wristwatch during the attempted robbery.
Another suspect in the attempted robbery was arrested by Richmond police on Wednesday. Carl Banks, 35, of Richmond was charged with first-degree robbery.
Banks drove the minivan, said a police report. The report said Sizemore told Banks to "jet" after the failed robbery, and that Banks drove away from the scene at a high rate of speed.
Banks remained in jail on Friday.