A manhunt is underway on Friday for a Tennessee man suspected of fatally shooting a deputy and injuring another during a traffic stop and who is considered “armed and dangerous.”
Warrants have been issued for Kenneth DeHart, 42, for first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the Thursday-evening shooting, the Blount County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Deputies Greg McCowan, 43, and Shelby Eggers, 22, initiated a traffic stop on an SUV on the 4900 block of Sevierville Road in Maryville just before 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.
DeHart “would not cooperate with deputies” and refused to exit the vehicle, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting.
A stun gun was deployed with “no effect,” the TBI said.
“At some point during the encounter, DeHart produced a gun and fired shots, striking both deputies,” the TBI said.
McCowan was transported to an area hospital where he later died. Eggers, who returned fire and was struck in the leg, was also transported to a hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
DeHart drove away from the scene.
A statewide Blue Alert was issued for DeHart and he was added to the TBI Most Wanted list.
Sheriff James L. Berrong was distraught when he announced the officer’s death during a Thursday-evening press conference, saying “it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
“We had an officer killed tonight on a traffic stop, another female officer was shot in the leg, she returned fire,” Berrong said. “We will get this man off the streets of East Tennessee and put him behind bars.”
McCowan started his career with the sheriff’s office in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to that, he served as a reserve deputy. He had worked in manufacturing and was always interested in law enforcement, graduating from the local law enforcement academy in October 2020, the sheriff’s office said.
“Deputy McCowan was always smiling and friendly to everyone. He loved riding motorcycles and restoring old vehicles,” a statement from the office said.
He is survived by his two children, granddaughter, his parents and his fiancée, Leah.
In an update early Friday, the sheriff’s office said Eggers was released from the hospital and is recovering at home. She had joined the sheriff’s office in 2019 as a corrections deputy.
A $62,500 reward is being offered for information leading to DeHart’s arrest — $10,000 is offered by the U.S. Marshals Service, $40,000 by firearm manufacturer Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith, and up to $2,500 by the TBI, on top of the initial $10,000 reward.
He was described as driving a silver Lexus, is believed to now be on foot and was last known to be in the Wildwood area.
The sheriff’s office is asking that residents in the Wildwood area check outdoor security and doorbell cameras for footage that may show possible suspicious people or activity in connection with the shooting.
Anyone with information about Dehart’s whereabouts or anyone who has seen or talked to him since Thursday evening are asked to call 865-981-7125 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.