Emotional funeral for slain Bardstown officer

BRUCE SCHREINER Associated Press Published:

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (AP) -- An emotional funeral for a Bardstown police officer shot to death on a highway exit ramp ended Thursday with his fellow officers placing white flowers on his casket and saluting, one by one.

Hundreds of police officers from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, emergency workers and others attended services for 33-year-old Jason Ellis, a K-9 officer who was on the drug task force.

His canine partner, Figo, stood beside his casket at Highview Cemetery in Chaplin. He has been retired and given to Ellis' widow, Amy, and his two sons, ages 6 and 7.

"Heaven is a real place. Jason is there," said the Rev. Brent Snook of First Baptist Church of Glen Este, in Batavia, Ohio, who had been Ellis' childhood pastor.

The former minor league baseball player turned lawman was hit with multiple shotgun blasts early Saturday after he got out his cruiser to pick up debris at a ramp off the Bluegrass Parkway in Nelson County, according to Kentucky State Police. The investigation is continuing.

Ellis' flag-draped coffin was pulled on a caisson by one white horse. It was accompanied by five officers on horseback and one officer leading a riderless horse. A bagpipe and drummer played.

At the end of the burial service, two helicopters flew overhead and the bagpipe player played "Amazing Grace."

At the morning service at Parkway Baptist Church in Bardstown, Police Chief Rick McCubbin told mourners Ellis was a fun-loving jokester who dressed as an elf at a town Christmas party, and he was proud of his work taking drugs off the streets with Figo.

McCubbin said Ellis "paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved, being a police officer." He called Ellis and Figo "true partners."

Ellis was "gunned down in a senseless act of cowardice and you just want to cry out, 'Why?'" Snook said at the funeral service.

Later, as the funeral procession inched slowly toward the cemetery 18 miles away, young and old stood on the roadside in this town of 12,000 and watched. Factories, office buildings and offices emptied as people lined the streets, many clutching American flags or holding their hands on their hearts. Others held signs thanking Ellis for his service. A giant American flag hung between two fire-truck ladders in front of the police department. Outside the courthouse stood three judges in black robes.

Outside the police station in Bardstown, about 40 miles southeast of Louisville, a makeshift memorial featuring flags, candles, flowers and baseballs sat in front of a police cruiser signed with messages.

One message read: "I love you. Mom."

Officials on Thursday announced that a reward fund in the case has surpassed $100,000.

Ellis had been a standout baseball player at the University of the Cumberlands, and he went on to play minor league ball in the Cincinnati Reds system from 2002 to 2005.