The Owensboro Police Department kept extra officers on duty Sunday, and the Kentucky State Police had troopers from other counties on standby to take Daviess County calls if needed, as both agencies and the Daviess County Sheriff’s Department responded to three violent incidents in the city and county.
“I hope we don’t have a day like that ever,” said Officer Andrew Boggess, OPD’s public information officer. The three incidents overlapped one another, so officers were still working the previous incident when the next was reported, Boggess said.
On Monday afternoon, investigators for the Kentucky State Police identified Ray S. Payne, 39, of Evansville, as the man who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after allegedly fleeing from police at 9:45 a.m. Sunday on West Parrish Avenue.
The incident ended with Payne shooting himself when a responding OPD officer came upon Payne in the roadway on Walnut. Before then, Payne had fled a traffic stop where he dragged an OPD officer, according to reports.
The officer, Michael Matthews, fired his handgun at Payne through the windshield of his patrol vehicle. KSP was called in to investigate the shooting and Matthews was placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
Trooper Corey King, public affairs officer for KSP, said footage from Matthews’ dash camera shows Payne shooting himself just before Matthews discharged his weapon.
“By looking at the footage, it’s all documented and it’s evident he shoots himself in the head first before the officer shoots,” King said. Matthews fired his weapon perhaps a second after Payne shot himself, he said.
“(Payne) had already shown indifference to the value of human life by dragging the officer,” King said.
Calls of people threatening suicide can “turn bad quickly,” he said.
“For the officer, you have a multitude of scenarios going on,” King said. “... You don’t know (the person’s) intent, and you don’t know if they want to kill themselves or if he wants the officer to kill him.”
There is also the possibility of a potentially suicidal person targeting the officer or bystanders, King said.
“OPD did a good job of containing him because he was in a residential area,” King said.
Payne made the statement that he was not going back to jail. King said Payne had active arrest warrants out of both Kentucky and Indiana.
The incident is still under investigation and it has not yet been determined if Matthews struck Payne when he fired his weapon. A medical examination was not performed on Monday.
“It’s terrible that someone feels like that was their out,” King said. “You hate to see this happen.”
Shortly after noon Sunday, Daviess County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to Thruston-Dermont Road to reports of a woman in a truck firing a handgun at a fleeing vehicle.
According to reports, the vehicles entered the city where the truck, driven by Stephanie L. Millay, 43, of the 3400 block of Hummingbird Loop South, crashed into the fleeing vehicle in the parking lot of Meijer on Heartland Crossing Boulevard near Kentucky 54 and again, shots were at the two people inside.
Millay was apprehended and charged with four counts of attempted murder and four counts fo first-degree wanton endangerment.
Maj. Barry Smith of the sheriff’s department said the incident stemmed from a dispute over a juvenile and Millay shared custody with the two people she was allegedly chasing in her vehicle. The child was not in either vehicle during the incident.
Millay was allegedly shooting at a relative and his wife, Smith said. The incident was reported by multiple witnesses.
“I don’t think any houses ended up being struck,” Smith said.
Boggess said there were no reports of other vehicles being hit by gunfire.
The sheriff’s office did not need additional patrol deputies to respond to the incidents, Smith said.
“We hope for calmer days ahead,” Smith said.
At 4:09 p.m., OPD Officer Austin Esther was stabbed in the face by a man who officer’s were attempting to arrest on Walnut Street. The man, Harold L. Sanders Jr. 31, of Owensboro, was charged with attempted murder, resisting arrest and had an outstanding warrant.
Boggess said Esther was treated and released from Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, and it isn’t known when Esther would return to duty.
The day was chaotic for officers, Boggess said.
“We were still out on the suicide and officer-involved shooting when the call on (Kentucky) 54 came in … They were still wrapping that up when the incident with Officer Esther came in.”
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, email@example.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse