updated 6/14/2007 6:38:47 AM ET 2007-06-14T10:38:47

An eastern Kentucky town struggling to curb its growing drug and alcohol problem must continue the fight without its police chief, who was fatally shot while arresting a man suspected of driving under the influence.

Word of Randy Lacy’s death Wednesday spread quickly through this town of about 1,300 residents 40 miles east of Lexington. Lacy, the town’s only officer, was remembered as being tough on the drug epidemic but compassionate to the criminals, many of whom he helped put behind bars.

“He was not only a cop, he was just a really good Christian man who was trying to get the community united against the drug problem,” said Dovie Knox, who works at Powell Prescription Center.

Lacy was arresting Jamie Barnett, a man with a long criminal record whom Lacy knew well, when the shooting took place. Barnett, 37, was charged with murder, said Lt. Phil Crumpton of the Kentucky State Police.

It wasn’t clear how the suspect accessed a gun or if he had a lawyer, and authorities declined to discuss the details of his capture.

When Lacy arrested Barnett, he handcuffed Barnett’s hands in front of his body instead of behind his back, Crumpton said.

‘Randy was a good officer’
In most circumstances, officers cuff in the back to restrict mobility, but Greg Adams, a Powell County sheriff’s deputy, said Lacy often cuffed people he knew in the front.

“Randy was a good officer,” Adams said. “He did trust people a little too much.”

Adams, who was one of several officers responding to the shooting, said Lacy kept an extra gun in his cruiser between the front seat and the console. Crumpton would not confirm that.

Lacy, 55, worked 22 years as an officer — the last three as chief of this town, which was looking to fill two vacancies.

“Everybody’s shocked by it. The town sort of went wild today, I think,” neighbor Brenda Patrick said. “It’s like a blanket of sorrow spread over the neighborhood.”

Garland Lacy, the police chief’s brother, said he learned about the shooting while listening to a police scanner. He said his brother was so friendly to suspects that he would sometimes stop and buy them snacks or cigarettes before taking them to jail.

“He was respected by all the police officers, and he was even loved by the people he was putting in jail,” said Garland Lacy, a court bailiff and chaplain for the sheriff’s department.

Barnett was charged with assaulting a police officer in 1994, according to court records. In April, he was charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident and disorderly conduct, court records said. Records also show the April 9 drunken driving arrest was his second such offense.

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