Hodgenville man held air rifle when shot by police

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By Jeff D'Alessio

A Hodgenville man shot and killed early Sunday morning when officers attempted to serve him warrants was pointing an air rifle at police when he was shot.

Benjamin H. Burba Jr., 59, was shot multiple times according to a preliminary autopsy by Hardin County Deputy Coroner Pat Elmore. He later was pronounced dead at Hardin Memorial Hospital.

Kentucky State Police spokesman Jeff Gregory said the lighting “was bad” at Burba’s South Lincoln Boulevard apartment as Hodgenville police officers Jaron Skillman and James Richardson attempted to serve warrants on him for disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing from an earlier incident at IGA Express in Hodgenville.

“They didn’t have time to figure out what he was holding when he turned and pointed at them,” Gregory said.

Gregory said the air rifle had a “wooden stock.”

“To anyone it would have been hard to discern in a split second whether it was real or not,” he said.

According to a KSP news release, a Taser was deployed at Burba but was ineffective. Gregory said there are a number of possibilities as to why it may have been ineffective, including one of the two probes missing the target or being blocked by clothing.

Skillman was placed on administrative leave, which is a common procedure in officer-involved shootings, according to Hodgenville Police Chief Steve Johnson.

KSP Sgt. Jeff Jenkins is leading the death investigation.

A memorial service for Burba is at 3 p.m. Sunday at LaRue County Church of Christ. Burba’s survivors include two brothers and two sisters.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.