Update at 8:59 a.m.: Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball released a statement Tuesday morning on Ladner allegedly falsifying his military record:
Following Shane Ladner’s tragic accident on November 15, 2012, in Midland Texas, he was unable to return to work. The city of Holly Springs opted to fill the vacancy in the Police Department in early April 2013. As a result, Mr. Ladner’s employment with the city was separated effective April 5, 2013.
We are aware of the allegations of false documents against Shane Ladner related to his military service. We are investigating what jurisdiction may have authority over these said allegations. We have been in contact with the local, state and federal agencies that would have authority to bring forward potential criminal charges and prosecution once all evidence is presented.
The Holly Springs police officer at the center of a campaign of well-wishes and donations in the wake of the tragic accident that injured him and caused his wife to lose a leg is now at the center of a controversy.
FOX 5 News has alleged that Shane Ladner, who was riding in a parade float with his wife in Midland, Texax, during Show of Support's annual "Hunt for Heroes" festivities when it was stuck by an oncoming train last November, should not have been at the event in the first place.
According to FOX 5, Ladner lied about winning a Purple Heart in Panama in order to become eligible for the "Hunt for Heroes." The veterans organization Show of Support only allows 25 wounded combat veterans to participate in the event each year.
The "Hunt for Heroes" is an all-expenses paid trip which consists of a whitetail deer hunt, an honorary banquet, and a parade recognizing the wounded warriors for their service to the country. It was during the parade that a train struck the float the Ladners were on.
As a result of the accident, Ladner's wife Meg lost her left leg.
Since the accident, the Ladners have received a groundswell of support from the Holly Springs, Hickory Flat, and Cherokee County communities. From simple prayers to financial contributions, thousands of people across the area have done what they could to help the Ladners through this difficult time.
According to the Cherokee Tribune, Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball learned approximately three weeks ago that Ladner may have falsified his military records to include a Purple Heart decoration. Ball confirmed that Ladner was "no longer with" the department, but that an internal investigation had not been launched.
Ball did not link the alleged falsification with Ladner's termination.
“Other than talk we have no evidence [of false records] at this time,” Ball told the Tribune.
According to the Tribune, Ladner was on 12 weeks of unpaid leave, following a previous 12-week period of paid leave, until April 5. Despite numerous attempts to contact Ladner or his attorney, the department could not get in touch with him and terminated the officer on April 5.
Ladner's prior military service was confirmed during his application process to join the Holly Springs Police Department, Ball said, but the confirmation process did not include military decorations.
American soldiers are eligible to receive a Purple Heart when wounded by direct enemy action, such as gunshots or shrapnel wounds from explosive devices.