BARDSTOWN, Ky. - Hundreds of people lined the streets of Bardstown and packed into a church for the emotional funeral of police officer Jason Ellis, who was shot to death on Saturday.
Ellis' coffin was draped in an American flag Thursday for the 1 1/2-hour service. At least a half-dozen speakers took to the podium at Parkway Baptist Church.
Mourners included police officers from across Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, as well as Ellis' wife and two sons, ages 6 and 7.
Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin told the crowd that the 33-year-old 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 his K-9 partner.
McCubbin recalled how Ellis would end their conversations by saying, "You're my chief! You're my chief!"
"I am your chief, Jason, but you're our hero and you need to know this chief will not stand down," McCubbin said. "Jason, my friend, rest easy. We've got it from here."
The Batavia, Ohio, native and 1998 Glen Este High School graduate was a Cincinnati Reds minor leaguer before joining the Bardstown police in 2006.
Ellis attended First Baptist Church of Glen Este and many who knew him gathered at the church in Batavia Thursday to watch the funeral.
Amanda Debruler, a friend of Ellis who attended the visitation in Bardstown Wednesday night, said she was struck by the outpouring of support.
"I knew he was an amazing man, but how many lives he touched I didn't realize that until last night," she said. "It really hit home then to see his friends, family, officers, those who didn't know him that well, loved him."
Police say a gunman ambushed Ellis as the officer cleared debris from the Bluegrass Parkway exit 34 early Saturday morning. Some investigators are so busy checking possible leads that they didn't attend the funeral, McCubbin said.
"It's going to be a very emotional day," McCubbin said at a news conference before the funeral.
An honor guard that included 10 uniformed police officers and fire-rescue personnel stood outside the entrance to the church, snapping to attention as Ellis' family entered.
American flags lined the main road and traffic backed up for miles before the funeral.
Gov. Steve Beshear directed that flags at all state office buildings be displayed at half-staff Thursday in respect for Ellis. He encouraged all homes, businesses and organizations across the Commonwealth to fly flags at half-staff, too.
"We grieve with Officer Ellis' family and fellow law enforcement officers at this unspeakable loss," Beshear said in a news release. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of someone committed to a career of protecting others. And we know his fellow law enforcement officers are working to bring his killer to justice."
A reward fund in the case has surpassed $100,000, including a $50,000 donation from Louisville businessman Gus Goldsmith.
According to the Bardstown police department's Facebook page , here's how to donate to either the officer's family or the reward fund set up through the family and the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #43:
Make checks payable to Officer Jason Ellis Memorial Fund or the Officer Jason Ellis Reward Fund. Specify which fund.
Checks can be sent in each fund's name to Chief Rick McCubbin, Bardstown Police Department, 212 Nelson County Plaza, Bardstown, Ky., 40004. Donations also can be made at any Muir Bank branch in Bardstown.
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