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Police investigating shooting death of Tommy Ballard

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KSP says investigators will be on the scene well into Saturday evening

By Staff

UPDATE:Nov. 20, 6:50 pm -- A Louisville television station is reporting Tommy Ballard was shot in the chest, not in the back as previously believed.

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WHAS 11 in Louisville reported that Nelson County Coroner Field Houghlin said Ballard was shot in the chest and the bullet exited his back. He was shot once, the news station reported Houghlin said.

An autopsy was scheduled for Sunday. 

UPDATE:Nov. 19, 5:50 pm -- Two separate sources close to the investigation are confirming the shooting of Tommy Ballard early Saturday morning is being considered a possible homicide. 

Kentucky State Police have not released any details since a press conference at around 3 p.m. KSP public information officer Jeff Gregory said the agency is "still calling it a death investigation" as of 5:06 p.m.

According to the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigaton, Ballard's weapon was not fired. A source close to the family said Ballard was shot in the back, possibly through the heart. The Nelson County Coroner's Office did not release any details on the death to the Standard Sunday night. On Monday, the Jefferson County Coroner's Office confirmed it was handling the autopsy, but no information was available as of 10 a.m.

Ballard was with his grandson, who two sources said was unarmed. Reportedly, the two were preparing to go out hunting when the grandson returned to the vehicle they had arrived in and heard the gunshot. Ballard was waiting in the field for him to return when he was shot.

Sources also told the Standard no suspects had been identified.

November 19, 4:21 pm -- Tragedy has again struck the Ballard family.

Tommy Ballard, 54, father of missing Bardstown woman Crystal Rogers, was shot and killed early Saturday morning.

The death was confirmed that morning by the Ballard family, and later at a 3 p.m. press conference at Kentucky State Police Post 4 in Elizabethtown by Trooper Jeff Gregory.

Gregory said Nelson County Dispatch contacted KSP at 7:54 a.m. Saturday morning to assist on a death investigation at property off of Ed Brent Lane in Nelson County.

Ballard had been hunting on the property with an unnamed juvenile when he was shot, Gregory said. The trooper said it was unclear how many times Ballard had been shot, and from what firearm the shot or shots came from. The time of Ballard’s death was uncertain, he said.

Family at the scene indicated the juvenile was a grandson, that Ballard had been shot in the back and that the property they were on belonged to his son.

Investigators were working the property, as well as areas up near the Bluegrass Parkway. Gregory also said it was unclear from where the shot or shots were fired, or whether there were other hunters on the property. Kentucky deer rifle season began Nov. 12.

“We have investigators there on the ground that are working on it now,” he said. “It’s just preliminary; I can only give you what I have,” admitting it wasn’t much and that there would be more updates as new information became available. Gregory said they were still treating the scene as a death investigation, and that it had not been determined an accident or intentional shooting at that time. "To rule it as anything else right now, at this time, would be irresponsible."

Though police could not say if the shooting was a hunting accident, Gregory said the investigation did mirror what might be done in that situation, with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife being involved. But KSP was handling the investigation, and had been asked to do so, he said, by the Nelson County Sheriff's Office.

The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, Kentucky State Police and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife had all responded to the scene by 9 a.m. and at least one K-9 unit was walking the property. Several family members and friends were also on scene throughout the morning, and police tape stretched across a large portion of a field.

Ballard’s daughter, Crystal Rogers, was reported missing in July 2015 and is believed to be dead. Her disappearance is being investigated by the NCSO. His sister, Sherry, was last seen in 1979, when she was 19 years old and seven months pregnant. Her remains were found three years later and her estranged husband was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for her murder.

Gregory was unable to confirm any connection between Ballard’s death and the Rogers’ investigation, as well as other unsolved murders involving Bardstown Police Officer Jason Ellis and Kathy and Samantha Netherland. He cautioned uneasy Nelson County residents against feeding into the rumor mill.

“We feel for that community, definitely the Ballard family,” he said.

Gregory said that Nelson County residents should not be concerned about immediate danger.

“I’m sure that being who (Tommy Ballard) is, and his daughter being disappeared …that's what people have on their mind,” Gregory said. “We have some very highly trained and skilled investigators from several agencies that will be looking into it. … We ask them not to lose faith in us.”

He said there would be investigators on site “well into the evening.”

Check www.kystandard.com and Wednesday’s edition for updates to this story as they become available. A video from the Saturday's press conference can be viewed through PLG TV-13 as well as on The Kentucky Standard's Facebook page.