Man killed in shootout with deputy was target of drug investigation

The man who was killed Wednesday in an exchange of gunfire with a Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy was being sought as part of a drug investigation earlier in the week, a Stanford newspaper reported.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was looking for Welby O’Dell Mullins Jr. after deputies had executed a search warrant Tuesday at Mullins’ home and found more than two pounds of crystal meth and several thousands dollars in cash, the Interior Journal reported. Mullins wasn’t home at the time, but a warrant for his arrest had been issued, the newspaper reported.

Mullins, 64, of Hustonville, was killed in a shooting between him and Lincoln County Deputy Colby Reik, who also is a Lexington firefighter. Reik was shot in the arm, but a spokeswoman for University of Kentucky Hospital said he had been released.

Reik was shot after he approached the passenger side of a stopped vehicle. The driver followed verbal commands from the deputy, Trooper Robert Purdy said, but Mullins, the only passenger, got out of the vehicle with a handgun. Mullins and Reik exchanged gunfire.

The shooting occurred shortly before 4 p.m. at a Sunoco gas station on the northern edge of the Pleasant Retreat shopping center on U.S. 27 just south of Lancaster.

The sheriff’s office had been looking for a vehicle as part of the drug investigation. Reik spotted it and followed it north into Garrard County.

Mullins had been released in July after serving more than two decades in a federal prison for a 1993 cocaine offense, according to U.S. District Court records.

That case went to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals when Mullins and co-defendant Kerry Dean Coffey appealed a U.S. District Court’s order denying their motion to suppress evidence and their subsequent convictions on conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s judgment in February 1995.