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Hero Down: Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy Sean Riley Murdered By Gunman

Wayne County, IL – Wayne County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) Deputy Sean Riley was murdered in the line of duty while trying to help a motorist Wednesday morning, according to police.

The horrific series of events began at approximately 5 a.m. on Dec. 29, when Deputy Riley responded to mile marker 115 on Interstate 64 to provide a “motorist assist,” the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) said in a Facebook post.

When another officer arrived at the scene, he noticed Deputy Riley’s patrol vehicle was gone.

He then found the slain deputy’s body.

Authorities said that shortly after Deputy Riley called in the license plate information on the vehicle he’d stopped to help, he was shot, The Navigator reported.

Deputy Riley was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:07 a.m.

Investigators subsequently located Deputy Riley’s stolen patrol vehicle abandoned further down the interstate.

The gunman was later identified as 40-year-old Kentucky resident Ray Tate, KMOV reported.

According to the Illinois State Police (ISP), Tate carjacked a semi-trailer near the location where he ditched Deputy Riley’s patrol vehicle and forced the driver to take him to a gas station in St. Peters, Missouri.

At approximately 7 a.m., Tate allegedly carjacked another victim at a QuikTrip gas station on Main Street in St. Peters, police said.

Investigators said the suspect drove off after shooting the owner of the vehicle he stole, KMOV reported.

The wounded victim was rushed to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Tate ditched the stolen car off Highway 70 in Missouri and ended up heading back to Illinois with a kidnapped victim in yet another stolen vehicle, according to the ISP.

Investigators located the vehicle parked near a residence on Beaver Road in Carlyle at approximately 1 p.m., KMOV reported.

Tate allegedly took the kidnapped victim and broke into a residence, where he also took a homeowner hostage, according to police.

A SWAT team and ISP officers were able to breach the home within an hour and took Tate into custody without further incident, KMOV reported.

The two hostages were uninjured.

The ISP confirmed Tate was also wanted in connection with a shooting that occurred during an attempted carjacking in Indiana on Dec. 16, KMOV reported.

No one was injured during that attack.

Tate was charged with first-degree murder Thursday in the death of Deputy Riley, The Southern Illinoisan reported.

His bail was set at $5 million, according to WEEK.

Tate’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25.

Deputy Riley’s body was escorted to the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office by a multitude of law enforcement officers at approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday, KFVS reported.

The WCSO said it is “devastated” by the deputy’s murder.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of our loved Deputy Sean Riley,” the agency’s Facebook post read.

Deputy Riley leaves behind his wife and three children, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sean Riley, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Deputy Sean Riley, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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