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Volunteer Firefighter Remembered As ‘True Hero’ After He’s Shot To Death, Allegedly By Stranded Motorist He'd Been Trying To Help

“I know things won’t ever be the same without him, and it really breaks my heart that he’s gone,” said a longtime friend of Jacob McClanahan, who was killed May 16 while trying to help a man who had ran out of gas, identified by police as Justin Moore.

By Jill Sederstrom
A handout of Jacob Tyler McClanahan

An Indiana volunteer firefighter is being remembered as a “true hero” after authorities say he was fatally shot last week by a stranded motorist he had been trying to help along the highway.

Jacob McClanahan, 24, was killed May 16 after he had pulled over with a friend just before 9:30 p.m. on SR 135 to help Justin Moore, a motorist from Owensboro, Kentucky who had apparently run out of gas just south of Palmyra, according to a statement from the Indiana State Police.

Within minutes, police allege Moore opened fire, fatally striking McClanahan.

"Jacob is a true hero, who will always be remembered as someone who put others before himself," Ramsey Fire Department Sgt. Joshua Saulman, a longtime friend of McClanahan, told WHAS.  “I know things won’t ever be the same without him, and it really breaks my heart that he’s gone."

According to police, Moore’s car had run out of gas and remained partially in the roadway when Palmyra Police Reserve Officer Zachary Holly arrived to assist Moore. McClanahan, and a friend traveling together in a pick-up truck, had also pulled over to help.

Holly had allegedly asked Moore if he had any weapons in the vehicle.

Moore had a small knife with him that Holly had asked that he place in the back of the vehicle, but as Moore entered his car, he “quickly turned around” with a shot gun and began to fire at Holly, police allege.

Holly returned the fire and Moore fired again, fatally striking McClanahan.

Holly continued to return fire, ultimately hitting Moore, who died from his injuries.

Police said they are not sure why Moore had been traveling through Indiana.

The scene of crime where Jacob McClanahan was found

McClanahan, a resident of Corydon, Indiana, had been a truck driver for the Harrison County Highway Department and a member of several volunteer fire departments, including the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Department, the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Department, the New Middletown Township Volunteer Fire Department and the Leavenworth Fire Department, according to his obituary.

After his death, multiple organizations remembered the 24-year-old on social media.

Nothing makes sense that anyone could be murdered while stopping & rendering aid,” said a statement from the Harrison Township Fire Department. “Jacob is a true hero that will forever be remembered living the selfless life he did. A true firefighter that was always there when you needed help. Godspeed Jacob T. McClanahan. Your brothers at Harrison Township will miss you. Gone but never forgotten.”

The Ramsey Fire Department also remembered McClanahan as someone who “never had a negative word to say about anything” and “always looked at the brighter side” of life.

On Saturday, residents of Corydon lined the streets holding photos and American flags in a procession to honor McClanahan as he was laid to rest in the Cedar Hill Cemetery. Fire trucks and police vehicles also filled the parking lot of the Old Capitol Methodist Church, according to WDRB.

“He would do anything for anybody, you couldn’t meet a nicer kid," Brian Chinn said of his coworker. “It gives a person a different outlook on stopping and helping people, I mean, we always try and stop and help people out."

His friend Paulinna Johansen told WAVE that “everyone loved” McClanahan and said she hoped the tragedy wouldn’t prevent others from helping those in need.

“He was doing what he thought was best and I hate what happened,” she said. “I really hate what happened. I just don’t want people to think that they still can’t be a good person still though. He changed the community. He made it a better place here.”

Police said the investigation into the shooting remains ongoing.

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