Suspect accused of killing Auburn police officer appears in court

Local News

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The suspect accused of shooting and killing an Auburn police officer and injuring two others had his first court appearance Tuesday.

Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, is charged with capital murder, three counts of attempted murder, and 2nd degree domestic violence strangulation. 

Wilkes was not entitled to a bond because of the capital murder charge. He only spoke to confirm his signature on a court document.

According to new court filings, investigators said a woman called 911 to report that her live-in boyfriend had threatened to kill her and physically assaulted her at a home in the 3000 block of Wire Road.

Police said the woman fled and got help from a nearby officer. When officers responded to make contact with Wilkes, investigators allege that he answered the door in body armor and began firing at the officers.

The allegations in an affidavit charging crime were filed in Lee County court.

Officer William Buechner was killed in the incident.

Neighbors can make donations to a memorial fund to help his family with expenses.

Two other officers, Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliot were also injured. Elliot has been released from the hospital.

Officer Sistrunk’s brother told CBS 42 that he remains in the hospital, is doing better, and called him an American hero.

Family members have started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Sistrunk’s medical expenses.

Auburn Football Coach Gus Malzah visited Sistrunk Tuesday.

Wilkes was represented by a court-appointed attorney for Tuesday’s hearing. He requested a preliminary hearing, but needs to formally file a request.

After the hearing, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes explained why he is seeking the death penalty.

“If you come to Lee County, you murder a law enforcement officer, I will absolutely seek whatever the stiffest punishment allowed under the law, today as we stand the stiffest punishment allowed is the death penatly,” said Hughes.

Hughes said officers were wearing body cameras. Investigators are in the process of reviewing any video of the incident.

DA Hughes was asked if Wilkes confessed.

“I don’t want to say any more than he’s been cooperative, because I will say this, I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve heard people classify things as a confession and when you read it you’re like well that’s not really a confession so again that is somewhat of a term of art, one person’s confession is another person’s statement, so I’ll just simply say he’s been cooperating,” said Hughes.

According to a spokesperson for the Alabama National Guard told CBS 42 that Wilkes is currently an infantry fire team leader.

Wilkes has been with the guard since December 2010, but had not deployed according to government records.

CBS 42 spoke to a family member of Wilkes by phone Tuesday. The loved one said they are praying for all involved and also continuing to love Wilkes as a member of the family. 

Wilkes had no prior dealings with local law enforcement, according to Auburn Police.

Funeral services for Officer Buechner were announced Tuesday by the Frederick-Dean Funeral Home in Opelika,

The visitation will be at Auburn University Arena on Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Funeral services will be at the arena at 2 p.m. with an interment to follow at Town Creek Cemetary in Auburn after the service.

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