A manhunt is underway in east Tennessee following a tragic incident where a sheriff’s deputy lost his life in the line of duty. Deputy Greg McCowan, 43, was fatally shot, and another officer, Deputy Shelby Eggers, 22, sustained injuries during a traffic stop on Thursday evening, as confirmed by Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong.

Who is Kenneth Dehart? 

The suspect, identified as 42-year-old Kenneth Dehart, is wanted on charges including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The incident occurred in Blount County, home to the city of Maryville, approximately 30 miles west of Gatlinburg.

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Kenneth Dehart (x/@bnonews)

McCowan, who began his law enforcement career in 2020, was described as a dedicated officer known for his exceptional service. In addition to his commendable performance in a regional law enforcement training class, McCowan was recognized in 2021 for his heroic actions in rescuing a man trapped in a burning vehicle. Sheriff Berrong expressed deep sorrow over McCowan’s tragic death, emphasizing his unwavering dedication and friendly demeanor towards everyone.

Following the shooting, a statewide blue alert has been issued for Dehart, who is considered armed and dangerous. Law enforcement agencies are collaborating in the search for Dehart, who is believed to be traveling on foot. The Blount County Sheriff’s Office has urged the public not to approach the suspect and instead contact law enforcement authorities immediately if spotted.

The community has rallied together in support of apprehending Dehart, with a reward of over $60,000 being offered for information leading to his capture. Despite the ongoing manhunt and heightened tensions, authorities have remained tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding the initial encounter between the deputies and the suspect.

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As the search intensifies, residents in eastern Tennessee remain on high alert, hoping for a swift resolution to the manhunt and closure for the fallen deputy’s family and colleagues. Meanwhile, the tragic loss of Deputy Greg McCowan serves as a stark reminder of the risks law enforcement officers face daily in their commitment to public safety.