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Two Kentucky Lawmen Killed; Suspect Surrenders

January 31, 1992

CLAY CITY, Ky. (AP) _ A gunman who allegedly opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon and killed a sheriff and his deputy surrendered after an eight-hour search through the Appalachian foothills.

Ralph Steven Baze, tired and dirty after crossing the rugged countryside, surrendered at the house of a former sheriff Thursday night, according to Kentucky State Police Trooper Lon Fields.

Baze pleaded innocent today to two counts of capital murder and was ordered held at the Montgomery County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bond.

Deputy Arthur Briscoe of the Powell County sheriff’s department died instantly when he was shot in the face with a Chinese SKS assault rifle while attempting to arrest the 36-year-old Baze on Ohio warrants, said Trooper Ed Robinson, a Kentucky State Police spokesman.

Sheriff Steve Bennett was shot in the chest after he answered Briscoe’s call for help, Robinson said. Briscoe was a brother-in-law of Bennett’s.

Briscoe had gone to Baze’s home, about 40 miles east of Lexington, to serve warrants for charges that included assault, bail jumping, and receiving stolen property.

Dozens of officers and dog teams, assisted by helicopters, combed through the wooded foothills looking for Baze, described by Robinson as a ″survivalist″ who took both officers’ revolvers before fleeing.

Baze knocked on the door and surrendered at the home of a former sheriff, Montie Parks, who was at home with his family. Parks said Baze apparently did not know who lived in the house. He still had his rifle and the two revolvers, police said.

″I had a feeling all day we’d see him come through this country,″ Parks said. ″The way the hills are laid it’s only two miles away and this was a sure way out.″

He described Baze as exhausted and limping from an injury.

″Everybody remained calm,″ said Parks, who had a family member call police.

Diana Baze, 48, said she watched as her husband of five years opened fire on the officers outside the couple’s log cabin on a hilltop.

″The (deputy) sheriff was going to shoot him,″ Mrs. Baze said. ″... I was hollering at the deputy and said ’no.‴ She fell to the ground at the instant both her husband and the deputy fired a shot.

″Ralph turned and ran because he was scared,″ she added.

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