LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – A Lexington church became a crime scene in early June when a Woodford County man was shot and killed while paying his respects to a murdered friend.

Both of the crimes are still unsolved. Now, for the first time, a Fayette County sheriff’s deputy who was providing security that day, is talking about the moment it went from somber ceremony to chaos.

Deputy Anthony Palmer has tackled various tasks as a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s department. Saturday, June 4 his duties took him to Haggard Court where he and others were assigned to stand watch over the funeral for Malcolm Long.

“We handle funeral escorts,” Palmer said. “Anytime there’s a homicide in the city where there’s not been an arrest, either the family or the funeral home will request that we provide security inside the church.”

Nothing was out of the ordinary that day as a constant line of visitors wove through the Unity Worship Center. All there to pay their respects to the 29-year-old murder victim.

“The next thing we know we just hear pop, pop, pop. We looked at each other, shocked … like this can’t be,” Palmer said.

Not here. Not in a place of worship on a dark day for so many family members and friends.

“There are hundreds of people at this event to honor somebody’s life,” said Det. Anthony Delimpo. “And we have a suspect come up, drive up, get out and have kind of an execution-style murder right in the parking lot.”

And, from there Deputy Palmer said, things only got worse.

He was covered in blood and we provided life-saving measures. While trying to save his life we have to maintain the crowd. While doing that one of our deputies was assaulted by another subject, something that shouldn’t happen because we’re trying to help.”

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The crowd turned frantic and furious, Deputy Palmer says. Some streamed the chaos over social media. Others ran. And, eventually, for investigators, a motive appeared in Joseph Richardson’s murder.

“It is 100% retaliation shooting. We obviously didn’t know it was going to happen. But, it was retaliation. It’s one of those things that have been a problem in Lexington and it’s something we’ve got to deal with.”

There are dozens who could help clear this case. One call to Crime Stoppers identifying the shooter is all it takes.

“He has told somebody,” Delimpo said. “People know who the shooter is and we need them to come forward. This guy is out there and it’s very dangerous to think about somebody like this on the loose.”

As part of a summer initiative to help Lexington Police solve unsolved 2022 homicides, Crime Stoppers has increased the reward for information in Malcolm Long and Joseph Richardson’s murders to $2,500. You can leave your anonymous information on the tip line by calling 859-253-2020 or by going online to p3tips.com.