The fatal shooting of Russell Heard on his property in February was nothing short of a tragedy. Heard, 74, a farmer in the Rockfield community, was a respected citizen who will be sorely missed by his many friends and family.
News last week that a Warren County grand jury failed to indict the shooter who was charged with first-degree manslaughter in Heard’s death is nothing short of a mystery.
Here is what we do know based on media accounts of police reports and court proceedings.
Daniel W. Moore arrived at the Heard property on Galloway Mill Road looking for Bradley Heard, Russell Heard’s son, who lived on the property. Moore later told police he had gone to the property to retrieve a gun that had been taken from him.
Witnesses at the scene said Moore was holding a firearm pointed at the ground in front of his belt buckle.
Russell Heard asked his son to come outside in an effort to get his son and Moore to resolve whatever problem they had.
At some point, Bradley Heard came out of the house carrying a knife in each hand. Moore fired a warning shot into the ground.
In the altercation that followed, Moore, who suffered a knife wound, fired multiple rounds. Several struck Bradley Heard and one struck his father, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Moore was arraigned on a charge of first-degree manslaughter. Bradley Heard recovered from his wounds and is charged with first-degree assault. We have seen no report to indicate that the gun that was alleged to have been taken has been found.
When Moore showed up at the Heard property with a loaded firearm in his hand, his decision had the potential for tragedy, which indeed was the outcome. A good man, who wasn’t involved in whatever issue there was between Moore and his son, was killed.
Had Moore simply let law enforcement handle the matter of the gun he said was taken from him, Russell Heard would be alive today.
Russell Heard’s family and friends are understandably puzzled, upset and angry over the no true bill returned by the grand jury. They want to know why the grand jury failed to indict.
They wonder if the grand jury heard from witnesses to the shooting and law enforcement officers who conducted the investigation.
The grand jury process is cloaked in secrecy so we do not know who may have testified or what, if any, information the grand jury might have been privy to that was not known to the general public.
To have closure, we believe the family and general public needs to know what that decision turned on. We call on Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron to provide some public insight on this.
This would not be unprecedented. We recall that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who was the special prosecutor in the tragic Breonna Taylor death, made public statements after the grand jury finished its work and several jurors on that panel were quoted in the media as well.
If that information is not forthcoming, we would urge that a future grand jury take another look at that case.