LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy was shot and killed early Thursday morning while working off-duty in Shively.
An emotional Sheriff John Aubrey announced at a news conference Thursday morning that Deputy Brandon Shirley, 26, died after emergency surgery at University Hospital.
Shirley was in uniform and sitting in an unmarked car working security at Rockford Lane Auto Sales on Rockford Lane when a gunman came up to the window and shot him at about 2:30 a.m. He was rushed to the hospital, but Aubrey said "his wounds proved to be too extensive, and he did not survive."
Officers from different agencies gathered at the hospital hours later to escort his body to the Jefferson County Coroner's Office in eastern Jefferson County.
Aubrey called Shirley's death "tragic and senseless." He requested that Louisville Metro Police handle the investigation.
LMPD Chief Erika Shields expressed condolences to Shirley's family and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office calling the shooting "absolutely heartbreaking and wholly unnecessary." Shields said there is limited information that can be released about the investigation, but she did say they "can say with a feeling of confidence that he was targeted, and he was ambushed." She said "it is just sickening."
Shields said investigators do potentially have a "couple of suspects." She assured the public, "We will make an arrest."
"I understand the want to get information, but we really have to play this close to the vest until we know we can get a conviction," Shields said.
Shirley's close friends are having trouble understanding why this happened.
"He was over there just doing an extra job off duty, doing security work," Brandon Blair said. "I don't know if it was him being in the wrong place at the wrong time or somebody just mad at the wrong person at the wrong time, I don't know.
"How could that happen to him? That's really the main thing. If there was anybody that didn't deserve that, it was definitely him. He didn't deserve that at all," Blair continued.
LMPD worked the crime scene for hours at the car lot centering the investigation on a red truck. It appears that is where Shirley was sitting when the shooting happened.
Police are looking for any surveillance video in the area from around the time of the shooting. They are also asking anyone with information to call the LMPD tip line at 502-574-LMPD (5673).
Aubrey said Shirley became a deputy on March 18, 2019, and was assigned to court security downtown.
Shirley was awarded the Medal of Valor at the department's last award program for his actions during social justice protests last year. He received the honor for running into the crowd to help Tyler Gerth, the photographer shot and killed in Jefferson Square last summer.
"Our hearts break for Deputy Shirley and his family and for a life taken far too soon due to senseless gun violence," the Gerth family said in a statement. "On the night Tyler died, Deputy Shirley rushed from his post inside the Hall of Justice and toward the crowd where shots were being fired and tried to provide first aid for Tyler. We will forever be grateful for his heroic actions that night. We pray that his loved ones can find peace in the face of such devastating loss."
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer released a statement on social media offering support. "Our entire city grieves with the family of Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Shirley, as well as with his Sheriff’s Office family & our public safety community. This is another senseless, tragic act of violence, & @LMPD will work tirelessly to bring accountability."
Our entire city grieves with the family of Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Shirley, as well as with his Sheriff’s Office family & our public safety community. This is another senseless, tragic act of violence, & @LMPD will work tirelessly to bring accountability.— Mayor Greg Fischer (@louisvillemayor) August 5, 2021
LMPD extended its support to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office on social media. The post read, "We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Sheriff John Aubrey and the Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office on the death of Deputy Brandon Shirley. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers."
We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Sheriff John Aubrey and the Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office on the death of Deputy Brandon Shirley. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. #LMPD #Louisville #Kentucky #WeHaveTheWatch #JCSOKY #LawEnforcement #Sheriff pic.twitter.com/f8BRKd2TUO— LMPD (@LMPD) August 5, 2021
Metro Council President David James, a former LMPD officer, offered his condolences on behalf of council. "Deputy Shirley answered the call to keep all of us safe and uphold the law. He leaves us at an age too young. This is a reminder of all the dangers faced by those who decide to wear a badge. We grieve with those who all knew him and pray for his family in their time of mourning."
The Louisville Metro Police Foundation is collecting donations for Shirley's family. It says he left behind his mother, father, three brothers and a partner of almost six years.
Donations will help his family with burial expenses and any unexpected costs they encounter. Donations can be made online here or on the foundation's Facebook page, here. Donations can also be made on Venmo using the handle @LouisvilleMetro-PoliceFoundati.
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