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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A slain Bardstown police officer was clearing tree limbs from the roadway when he was shot and killed in an ambush, authorities announced Tuesday.
Kentucky State Police now want to hear from area residents who had trees trimmed or removed from their property around the time of Officer Jason Ellis' murder.
Before Tuesday, investigators were tight-lipped about the type of debris that Ellis was attempting to clear when he was shot multiple times on an off ramp to the Bluegrass Parkway on May 25th.
"We are asking anyone that had any tree trimming or yard work done, we would ask that they contact Kentucky State Police," Trooper Brad Riley told reporters during an afternoon news conference Tuesday. "Part of what Officer Jason Ellis was removing was some tree debris... some tree limbs."
Kentucky State Police have said they believe the debris was intentionally placed there and that Ellis was ambushed in a "premeditated" killing.
Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin, who has said he believes Ellis was specifically targeted because of his police work, was asked Tuesday about how important those tree limbs are to the investigation.
"(I'd say) vital at this point because that's pretty much all we've got to be quite honest. There are other pieces of evidence of course but right now that's the most we've got," McCubbin told WDRB's Bennett Haeberle.
A Kentucky State Police spokesman said the limbs did not appear to be from the immediate area, but declined to provide further details.
"We are not going to release any more of the investigation right now. What we've released is what we release," said Riley.
Chief Rick McCubbin says his officers are still becoming accustomed to the "new normal" - a daily police life without their only K-9 officer. McCubbin says he's anxious for an arrest.
"If it takes a lot longer to be solved, I have to learn to be patient. I want it done right. I don't want any dismissals in court at this point," McCubbin said.
Ellis' picture has been placed in numerous store front windows in Bardstown. The crime has rattled the community.
"Especially to this magnitude (of something like this). It just breaks your heart. My heart goes out to the family. Whoever did this needs to be caught," said Wilma Sorrell, a Bardstown resident who stopped by the Bardstown Police Department to buy a raffle ticket. She later learned the raffle tickets benefiting a fund for Officer Ellis were sold out.
A reward fund leading to the arrest of those responsible for Ellis' murder has topped $125,000 and is expected to grow.