Tennessee sheriff increases reward to $80,000 as manhunt for suspect in deputy’s fatal shooting widens

More than $80,000 in reward money has been pledged for information leading to the arrest of 42-year-old Kenneth DeHart, Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said, as law enforcement in eastern Tennessee continued their search Saturday for a man who is accused of fatally shooting one sheriff’s deputy and injuring another during a traffic stop.

On Saturday, the Blount County Sheriff’s office warned residents living in the Wildwood area, that “there will be a large law enforcement presence” early in the afternoon “due to a non-tactical ground search that will take place.”

Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said warrants have been issued for Kenneth Dehart for first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and felon in possession of a firearm in a Facebook post. 

Deputy Greg McCowan, 43, was killed in the shooting, while Deputy Shelby Eggers, 22, was treated at a hospital and released, the sheriff’s office said Friday.

Blount County Sheriff's Deputy Greg McCowan
Blount County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg McCowan was fatally shot during a traffic stop.

Blount County Sheriff’s Office

“We’re committed to track him down,” Berrong said Friday. “We’re going to get him and he’s going to be brought to justice in Blount County.”

The bureau said in a Friday news release that deputies had initiated a traffic stop on a sport utility vehicle. The car had been stopped on suspicion of erratic driving, said Ryan Desmond, the district attorney general for Blount County.

The driver, identified by authorities as DeHart, refused to get out of the SUV, and a deployed stun gun had no effect, the bureau said. The driver produced a gun and fired shots, striking both deputies. Then, at least one deputy returned fire, and DeHart drove from the scene, the bureau news release said. McCowan later died at a hospital, according to authorities.

Desmond said Friday that DeHart’s brother had been arrested and charged with being an accessory for aiding the suspect after the homicide. The brother was jailed and Desmond said he faced a Monday court appearance. A woman identified by media outlets as the shooting suspect’s girlfriend also was arrested on an accessory charge Thursday night in adjoining Sevier County, where records show she was also jailed Saturday.

A procession of law enforcement vehicles joined a hearse containing McCowan’s body that traveled on Friday through Maryville, which is about 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of Knoxville.

McCowan began his career as a deputy in 2020 after graduating from a regional law enforcement training class, Berrong said Friday.

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