A manhunt is underway in an Ohio town after a police officer was shot and wounded, authorities said. The shooting happened early Wednesday morning at a gas station parking lot in Austintown, about 15 miles east of Youngstown. Authorities said the male deputy suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his chest and arm and was airlifted to a hospital near Pittsburgh where he’s on life support.
The shooting comes amid heightened tension following the ambush killings of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the July 7 sniper killing of five Dallas cops by an Army reservist who fired at random as police guarded a peaceful protest. The gunman fled on foot and was being hunted by police. He took off running after the Austintown shooting and broke into a house, where he left his cellphone behind.
It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. John Born said of the manhunt.
Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) released a statement Wednesday morning: My thoughts and prayers are with Sheriff Russell Gorman and his deputy who were shot early this morning. I have offered the full assistance of the Ohio Highway Patrol in any way that can be helpful as they seek to apprehend those responsible for this heinous act.
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of anyone involved with the shooting. The suspect has been identified by law enforcement as Quentin Lamar Smith and is described as a black male, 5’11, and about 250 pounds.
Smith has multiple felony convictions dating back to 1994, according to the Ohio Bureau of Identification and Investigation. Born said that authorities believed that Smith was wounded during the shooting because they found blood trails leading from the scene. However, he also had been described as armed and dangerous.
The motive for the shooting remains unclear, but Born said that a female passenger in the cab of the truck with Smith was cooperating with police.
Austintown is mostly rural and has about 20,000 residents. Police have asked people to be on the lookout for Smith and call 911 if he’s spotted.
Gunfire was exchanged between officers and the suspect or suspects, but no officers were injured during the shooting.
A press conference on Wednesday morning is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at Saint Elizabeth Healthcare Center in Youngstown with Ohio Governor John Kasich R.