LINCOLN COUNTY, Colo. — Authorities said they believe a deceased man found Thursday morning is the suspect in the shooting of a deputy along US 40 in Lincoln County earlier that day.
The injured deputy is in serious condition but is stable, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.
US 40 was closed from Limon to Kit Carson as authorities searched for the suspect Thursday morning.
Capt. Michael L. Yowell with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said they received a call around 3:15 a.m. Thursday regarding a theft in progress outside of Limon. A deputy sheriff — later identified by the sheriff's office as Michael Hutton — was dispatched to the scene and arrived minutes after the 911 call, Yowell said. A suspect was trying to steal merchandise out of the back of a semi trailer, Yowell said. It had been forcefully opened. A fellow truck driver woke up to the theft and called 911 to report it, Yowell said.
“Within seconds of being outside of his car and investigating this theft, he was met with a hail of gunfire," Yowell said.
Hutton was struck as he approached the back of the semi. He immediately retreated back, Yowell said. He had been struck multiple times but was able to provide self-care and keep himself in a hidden spot, Yowell said. The shooter then turned the gun on the person who had called 911, Yowell said. During this time, the reporting person was also injured but is safe, he said.
Agencies from around the region were called in to help locate the suspect.
Yowell said Hutton is in serious, but stable condition and is talking with officers and the sheriff at a local hospital. His vest was not struck by any of the gunshots.
He's a seven-year veteran of the sheriff's office, a U.S. Air Force veteran, and a school crossing guard in Hugo.
The reporting party, who was also injured, refused medical treatment at the scene. He had a minor abrasion, Yowell said. The driver "was crucial, absolutely crucial, in this investigation in the early stages," he said.
"He too saw evil tonight and did phenomenal and helped us with investigative leads," he said.
During the investigation, authorities found a deceased male about 1,000 yards away with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"Evidence located on that scene is indicative of evidence located on the shooting scene of Deputy Sheriff Mike Hutton," Yowell said.
The Lincoln County Coroner's Office will identify the deceased man.
Yowell said they don't believe there is a threat to the community, and noted that this sort of crime doesn't happen often in that part of Colorado.
The area was foggy Thursday morning during the search, with only about 1/4 mile visibility.
"It was a formidable fog," Yowell said.
Initially, authorities closed US 40 from Limon to Hugo, but the closure was extended farther southeast to Kit Carson around 6:40 a.m.
Flager and High Plains Schools were temporarily on lockdown. Both were lifted as of 10 a.m.
Trooper Gary Cutler, public information officer with Colorado State Patrol, said they are assisting in the search for the suspect.
This is a developing story and will be updated as we learn more.