Update: Man charged with murder of Pikeville Police Officer

Published: Mar. 14, 2018 at 2:50 AM EDT
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Scroll to the bottom of this story to see a slideshow of Officer Scotty Hamilton and Wednesday's procession.

8:30 p.m.

After a news conference, we have learned that John Russell Hall, 55, of Hurricane Road has been charged with the murder of Officer Scotty Hamilton.

Kentucky State Police said they are relieved to have found Hall and put him in jail.

"This is a tragic situation that at the end of the day there's not a good outcome. It's something that we are glad that charges have been filed, but it's just a bad situation from every aspect," said Trooper Michael Murriell with Kentucky State Police.

You can view the WYMT special report with more information in the video above.

6 p.m. Update

It was around 6:30 a.m. when Kentucky State Police announced the person of interest in this investigation.

Police told WYMT they were focusing their investigation on one person.

At 11 a.m., police arrested John Hall, the person who was of interest.

The arrest brought relief to those involved.

"Well it's definitely a relief for all us and I'm sure definitely the Pikeville Police Department as well as everyone in the community, you know, we wish that this had never happened, but it's definitely a feeling of relief for all of us," said Donnie Shearer, Captain of Post 9.

Police say they were able to arrest Hall in the Betsy Layne area.

"Were able to locate John R Hall at a residence off of Stoney Brook in the Betsy Layne area of Pike County, is was actually just inside Pike County where it happened at," said Captain Shearer.

3:30 p.m. Update

Update on John Russell Hall arrest

Posted by WYMT on Thursday, March 15, 2018
3:00 p.m. Update:

John Russell Hall, the suspect arrested Thursday morning in connection to the shooting of Officer Hamilton, has a long criminal history.

11:45 a.m. Update:

Police have arrested the suspect in Officer Hamilton's murder.

John Russell Hall was arrested without incident at 11:01 a.m. Thursday.

He was found in the Stoney Brook area of Pike/Floyd Hollow, in the Betsy Layne community of Floyd County.

BREAKING NEWS: Suspect in Pikeville Officer's murder arrested.

Posted by WYMT on Thursday, March 15, 2018
6:45 a.m. Update:

Police have released the name of a person of interest in the murder of Pikeville Police officer Scotty Hamilton.

They are looking for John Russell Hall, 55, of Hurricane Road.

He is being sought for questioning in relation to Hamilton's death.

There is a warrant out for his arrest. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 immediately.

10:00 p.m. Update:

Local churches, businesses, and people throughout Pikeville are continuing to show support for the family of Scotty Hamilton and first responders in the community.

Several local churches made changes to their Wednesday evening service to focus on praying for everyone affected by the shooting.

Paul Potter, who is a senior minister at Cornerstone Christian Church, is one of many who put up signs along the roadways to show support for law enforcement. He says he had the banner made as soon as he heard about the shooting.

"Well I hope that it gives them a little sign of hope that they're not alone and that there are people that care for them, and that their sacrifice and their hard work is not overlooked, that we don't take it for granted", said Potter.

Potter says his Wednesday evening service is dedicated to all of the people who are hurting after the loss of Hamilton.

"We want to show our support by having a prayer vigil for not only that family of officer Hamilton, but also for the police in this community", said Potter. "Just a prayer service that hopefully can encourage them to know that people are thinking about them and praying for them."

One member of the church who is a first responder and who also knew Hamilton well says he came to the church to pray during this difficult time.

It's hard. Very hard", said Albert Kingery of the Island Creek Volunteer Fire Department. "I don't care if you're a fireman, policeman, we're just one big family. We're supposed to be there for each other's back."

Kingery says seeing all of the love pouring in from the community helps him continue working on the case of his fallen friend.

"It's fantastic" said Kingery. "I wish there was more of it, prayer. I wish there was more prayer going on. We need that. In this day and time, we need a lot of prayer."

7:00 p.m. Update

The Pikeville High School Boys Basketball team will take the court at Rupp Arena for the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen. Suited up in Maroon and White, the team also sported a blue color in honor of fallen officer Scotty Hamilton.

The boys say they are playing for him and the Pikeville Police Department.

6:30 p.m. Update:

There is still an active search for those responsible for Pikeville Police Officer Scotty Hamilton's shooting.

Kentucky State Police say he was 35-years-old. Hamilton was a graduate of Shelby Valley High School and married the love of his life in February 2013, a few weeks ago marked their 5th anniversary. Also, within the last year, they had their first child, a little girl.

Law enforcement officials say there is no amount of training to prepare an officer for the day when they learn one of their own has died in the line of duty.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Jody Sims said:

Outside the old Pikeville Courthouse is a monument with the names of all the law enforcement officials killed in the line of duty in the county, and now another name will be etched into history.

When Officer Hamilton was killed late Tuesday night, Troopers say he and Trooper Matt Martin were searching a suspicious car and home and got separated.

"We know there was at least one gunshot wound to the head," said Sims.

Sims said Trooper Martin heard gunshots and found Officer Hamilton dead.

Now, Police are looking for those responsible and they hope the community can help.

"You rely on those people who are close by that may have contact or have some type of relationship with this individual or these individuals, however many there may be," Sims said.

Kentucky State Police and special response teams will continue searching through Wednesday night.

Hurricane Creek Road is closed while police search the area.

If you have any information you are encouraged to call Kentucky State Police Post 9 in Pikeville at (606) 433-7711.


As law enforcement continues to search for the person or people responsible for Officer Hamilton's murder, the news of his death has deeply impacted many people in Pikeville and the surrounding communities.

Employees at Community Trust Bank gathered together Wednesday afternoon to pray for Hamilton's family, friends, first responders and community. The group prayed for comfort and healing during this difficult time.

Also Wednesday afternoon, Officer Hamilton's body returned to Pikeville and dozens of first responders joined the procession and a large group of people gathered outside the JW Call Funeral Home to honor him on his final return home.

"People were stopped and getting out of their cars," said Alvin Newsome, Pike County Constable.

"It was a great thing to see everybody come out and pay their respects to Scotty," Steven Newsome, who was a friend of Hamilton's said.

Both Steven and Alvin Newsome said they knew Hamilton his entire life.

Steven said of Hamilton:

"It meant a lot to me to see all of those people along the sides of the streets," said Alvin. "I want people to know that Scotty was a fine young man, a fine city police officer, one of the best."

Another person who took time to remember Hamilton was Alex Cassel who worked with him for a few years at Pikeville Medical Center.

Cassel said:

Other people in the community brought food and flowers to the Pikeville Police Department, simply to let Hamilton's fellow officers know the community cares.

Over the next few days, many people said they plan to pull together by rallying behind Hamilton's family, friends and first responders by reminding each other in times of tragedy they are not alone.

5:30 p.m. Update:

There is still an active search for those responsible for Officer Hamilton's shooting.

Hurricane Creek Road remains closed as Kentucky State Police and special response teams search the area. Officials are going door to door talking to those who live in the area.

"[We] have utilized some of the Kentucky State Police helicopter and aircraft equipment. I think as far as other agencies, I can't advise what they may have been using," said Jody Sims, KSP spokesperson.

After serving with the Pikeville Police Department for 12 years, many in the Pikeville and surrounding communities will miss him.

Many people said Hamilton was courageous, smart and dedicated.

Alex Cassel, who worked with Hamilton, said Hamilton was "very outgoing, very loving, he cared about our community and loved his family."

4:15 p.m. Update:

Funeral arrangements for Officer Scotty Hamilton have been released.

J.W. Call and Son Funeral Home is handling all arrangements.

Two visitations will be held Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17 at the East Kentucky Expo Center at 5 p.m. on Friday and from Noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday.

The funeral service is set for Sunday, March 18 at 1 p.m. at the East Kentucky Expo Center.

Hamilton will be buried at the Pikeville City Cemetery.

Any memorial contributions can be made to the Brynlee Hamilton Scholarship Fund, c/o Community Trust Bank, P.O. Box 2947, Pikeville, Kentucky 41502.

4:00 p.m. Update:

Kentucky State Police now say there were possibly three gunshots fired at Pikeville Officer Scotty Hamilton.

However, KSP says they do not know what kind of gun was used in the murder.

"Been known for some possible high trafficking, drug trafficking activity just conduting criminal patrol in that area," said Trooper Jody Sims, Kentucky State Police. "Trooper that was there with Officer Hamilton was some distance away, he did advise he heard gunshots, but unfortunately he was not in the immediate proximity."

Kentucky State Police along with a special response team will continue searching throughout Wednesday evening.

"Just be aware that this situation has occured and a perpetrator or suspect has not been detained so there is someone out there who has committed this crime," Sims said.

As the news sinks in of Officer Hamilton's death, many in Pikeville and the surrounding communities are heartbroken.

Everyone from first responders to family and friends say Officer Hamilton will be greatly missed.

During Wednesday's processional WYMT talked with some family members who told us Officer Hamilton was a family man who enjoyed playing softball and was very dedicated to his community.

Officer Hamilton served with the Pikeville Police Department for 12 years.

Philip Elswick who is the City Manager of City of Pikeville said:

The community is currently coming together to honor Officer Hamilton in many ways, including with a candlelight vigil on Thursday, March 15th at 8 p.m. outside the East Kentucky Expo Center at the Billy Johnson Memorial Stage.

1:45 p.m. Update:

Kentucky State Police spokesman Jody Sims held a news conference addressing the shooting of Pikeville Officer Scotty Hamilton.

The area Hamilton was patrolling was a high drug-trafficking area.

Sims could not confirm how many gunshot wounds Hamilton received, but did say Hamilton was shot once in the head.

Officials say there may not be a witness to the shooting.

Police are still searching for the suspect or suspects involved. So far there is no description of the person or people responsible.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made this statement about the shooting:

12:35 p.m. Update:

Kentucky State Police released more information about what happened to Pikeville Police Officer Scotty Hamilton.

Officer Hamilton and Trooper Matt Martin were on criminal patrol on Hurricane Creek when they saw a suspicious vehicle. The officers spoke with the people in the vehicle and checked the area around a nearby building when the two were separated.

The release states gunshots were fired a short time later near the building. Trooper Martin found Officer Hamilton with a fatal gunshot wound.

Hamilton was pronounced dead by the Pike County Coroner's Office.

The shooter is still on the loose.

12:15 p.m. Update:

We're being told Officer Hamilton's body has been released from the state medical examiners office and is on the way back to Eastern Kentucky.

A police escort will bring his body back to Pikeville in the next 30 minutes. We hope to carry the procession live on WYMT, www.wymt.com and the WYMT Facebook page as they come into the city on U.S. 23.

Stay with us for updates.

10:30 a.m. Update:

Officials say the suspect accused of shooting and killing Pikeville Police officer Scotty Hamilton is still on the loose.

Troopers arrested four people at the scene on unrelated charges. The search for the suspect is still underway.

Original Story:

Officials tell WYMT a Pikeville city police officer is dead following a shooting.

It happened around 11:30 Tuesday night.

We're told Pikeville Police officer Scotty Hamilton and Kentucky State Police responded to the Hurricane Creek area of Pike County to investigate a crime.

We're told one suspect is in custody and troopers are using drones to search for another one. Critical incident response teams are also coming to assist with the investigation. No word on the identity or gender of the suspects.

Kentucky State Police is now in charge of the investigation.

Hamilton had been with the department since 2006. He leaves behind a wife and a little girl.

Officials are not releasing any other details this time.

This story will be updated.