Tennessee authorities are in the midst of a manhunt for the suspected killer of a Dickson County deputy who was found dead in his patrol car Wednesday morning, WZTV reported.
The deputy, Dickson County Sgt. Daniel Baker, had responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle at about 7 a.m. before dispatch lost contact with him, eventually tracking the patrol car down on GPS.
Police suspect Steven Wiggins to be Baker's killer based on video evidence. Wiggins is now on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's 10 Most Wanted list, and the TBI has issued a blue alert to state residents (used when someone kills a law enforcement officer and is a threat to the public).
Wiggins is also suspected of assaulting his girlfriend and stealing her car on Tuesday. Police say he put a gun to her head and slapped her before fleeing. The victim alleges that Wiggins had been doing meth and smoking marijuana.
The bureau is offering a $7,500 reward for information leading to Wiggins' arrest. He's described as a 31-year-old white male with brown hair, standing about 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds.
Wiggins' background check revealed previous arrests for kidnapping and domestic assault.
Community mourns the loss
Baker's mother, Veronica Bryan, issued the following statement to WZTV about her son's death:
I am unable to communicate verbally at this time. My son was a kind, compassionate young man. He loved his family, and adored his wife and daughter. He loved the outdoors, fishing, and hunting. He served his country in the Marines and came home to serve his community. He was a faithful servant to all. Please allow our family to process this tragedy.
Dickson County Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe addressed the media after the news of Baker's death.
"Not much I can say today, except that our hearts are shattered. This was one of our best deputies," Bledsoe said. "He's one of the guys who puts his life on the line every day to keep the community safe. He was doing that today."