HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA- On Friday night, America lost a U.S. Army veteran and a tremendous police officer from Huntsville, Alabama.  And five children lost their father.

Billy Fred Clardy III, a husband and father of five, was shot and killed in the line of duty.  He was only 48-years-old.

On Saturday afternoon, Huntsville police Chief Mark McMurray publicly announced the officer’s name at the Fallen Officer Memorial outside the police department’s headquarters.

Clardy became a Huntsville police officer in 2005, then joined the Madison-Morgan County HIDTA Drug Task Force, known as the STAC team, in 2018.

Prior to that, he worked for the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office and the Fayetteville Police Department in Tennessee and was also was a decorated veteran of the U.S. Army.

“Billy Clardy was more than a Hunsville hero,” McMurray said. “He was an American hero.”

According to McMurray, Clardy had received dozens of awards during his time at HPD, including 19 certificates of commendation, two outstanding unit citations and eight letters of appreciation.

During his 14 years at the department, he had been a patrolman, community resource officer and training officer among his other assignments.

During his time in the military, Clardy received the National Defense Medal, Army Service Medal and Overseas Service Ribbon.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle described Clardy as a dedicated community advocate who cared deeply for the local homeless population.

In speaking about him, he called him a “good friend” and “special gift” to the city.

“Our whole community is feeling the hurt of losing one of our own,” Battle said. “Billy Clardy is someone who will be missed … someone who set a standard for us as a community.”

To make things more tragic, Clardy’s father was Billy Clardy Jr.  He was a Huntsville police officer who was killed in an on-duty crash 41 years ago, in a crash that happened May 3, 1978 on U.S. 72 at the intersection of Old Gurley Road when his patrol vehicle left the road and hit a rock wall.

It’s been almost 12 years to the date since a Huntsville police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty.  The last time was Dec. 14, 2007.  That’s when officer Eric Freeman was killed by Kenneth Shipp, who is serving a life sentence for his murder.

According to police, they’ve arrested Clardy III’s killer.

He’s 41-year-old Tennessee man LaJeromeny Brown and is held in the Madison County jail on a capital murder charge.  Police say he’s a “known criminal”.

According to police, the shooting happened during a drug task force operation around 4 p.m. Friday near the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Levert Street Northeast.

Police said Brown drew a gun and shot Clardy. Clardy was wearing a bulletproof vest, but the bullet went through the top of the vest and into the officer’s heart.

They spent more than an hour trying to save his life at Huntsville Hospital, but were unable to.

The chief spoke highly of the medical staff who tried to save the officer’s life.

“Billy Clardy woke up (Friday) morning and he put his gun and badge on to go do something he loved to do,” said Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner. “He loved his job. Billy Clardy would do it all over right now. I know he would.”

Here are some more words from the Friday night press conference:

“I’ll be brief. I do not want to miss the gravity of this moment. Having left the hospital, parents lost a child tonight. There are children who lost a parent today. I think it is very important that we never forget that the people behind us (referring to the group of officers standing behind the podium) are the one’s who show up when you dial those three numbers.

They took an oath to protect and serve. And we get a chance to enjoy the beauty of this city because of the ladies and men of this police department. It is a sacrifice. The Huntsville community has lost a hero.

So, on behalf of the City Council, I am joined by Councilwoman Akridge, we send our strongest and earnest, true love and support to the family, but also to our Huntsville Police Department to let them know that we will not stand for this and we support them in every single way. The Huntsville community is blessed to have the Chief we have, the officers we have and the staff they have.

This will not go without any accountability. I promise you, anything that is needed by the police department, that the city council can help, we will.

Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans?  It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans.  Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice.  Check it out today.

Officer, veteran, father of five shot in the heart and killed.  His father was also killed in the line of duty.

 

Everybody should take a moment to appreciate your life today. If you see a police officer, give them a hug. Give them a thank you. Give them some type of love and appreciation for creating the greatness that is this city of Huntsville.”

Other statements were made along with many social media posts from departments and agencies across Alabama.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle:

“Our City is broken hearted tonight,” Battle said. “All of Huntsville mourns along with the Huntsville Police Department and the family and friends of our fallen officer. We owe a continual and deep debt of gratitude to the men and women in law enforcement who protect our community every day. Let it never be taken for granted the sacrifice that officers make to keep us safe.

We stand side by side with our police department and in the days, weeks and months ahead – have no doubt – we will use the full extent of the law to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

Gov. Kay Ivey:

“I am grieved to hear of the Huntsville Police Officer killed in the line of duty and extend my deepest sympathies and prayers to his family for their unimaginable loss. It has been an exceptionally tough year for our law enforcement community, and this will be felt across our state.

I will also be praying for strength for the Huntsville Police as they grieve the loss of their fellow officer, as well as for their continued protection as they keep us safe. may the Lord’s peace that passes all understanding be with the family and everyone who loved this dedicated officer.”

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town:

“All of Alabama is heartbroken again as another Alabama peace officer is gunned down in the line of duty. The Huntsville Police Department investigator, whose name will be released tomorrow, will always be remembered as a good man and a fine officer. Those of us who knew him admired his dedication and professionalism.

We must now direct our prayers to his grieving family and pull together in full support of the Huntsville Police Department and law enforcement everywhere who lost another brother of the badge tonight. I am beyond grief.”

Fraternal Order of Police:

“The Huntsville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 6 Executive Board and membership will have our fallen police officer brother and his family in our thoughts and prayers, as well as the entire Huntsville Police Department and Madison County law enforcement community. The FOP will stand ready for whatever the department, coworkers, family and friends ask of us in assistance.”

Rep. Robert Aderholt:

“I’m very sorry to hear of the death of this officer. We can never show enough gratitude for the men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day. May God bless this family and all of our law enforcement officers.”

This fallen warrior marks the 12th Huntsville officer lost in the line of duty. He is also the 560th in Alabama history. His death is the 6th in Alabama this year by gunfire and the 7th total. Only Texas (12), New York (12) and California (10) have suffered more LOD deaths this year. Those states have three of the top four largest populations. Alabama ranks 24th.

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