NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot during a traffic stop early Wednesday and police are offering a $12,500 reward to help them find the suspect, a man charged the day before with hitting a woman and stealing her car.
Authorities identified the suspect as Steven Joshua Wiggins, 31, a white male with balding brown hair who they believe is armed and dangerous. State, federal and local authorities conducted a manhunt of the area Wednesday near where Dickson County sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Baker was shot and killed.
During a news conference on Thursday, Susan Niland with the Tennessee Bureau of Information said despite receiving 139 tips, there have been no confirmed sightings of Wiggins since the death and urged everyone to proceed with “extreme caution.”
At this point, they don’t know where he is and could even be in neighboring counties.
According to reports, Baker served with the Marine reserves, joining the military in 2004. Four years later, he was hired as a patrol deputy with the sheriff’s department.
Sheriff Jeff Bledsoe said Baker stood out.
“Our hearts…. shattered. One of best officers. Worked up to sergeant. Puts it all on line to keep community safe.”
Baker was recognized for his brave actions numerous times.
In 2013 he helped rescue a woman trapped underwater after her pickup truck overturned in a creek.
In March, while off duty and working a second job, he chased after a drunken gunman who fired a handgun into the air.
Baker detained the suspect until police arrived.
On Wednesday, he was once again out on the streets serving his community when he went to check out a suspicious car. Despite numerous attempts, Baker couldn’t be contacted for some time, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Susan Niland said at a news conference. The deputy’s car was tracked by GPS to a location 2 or 3 miles (3 to 5 kilometers) away, and the deputy was found dead inside of it.
“He has the option to do the right thing,” Bledsoe said of Wiggins at a news conference Wednesday. “People make mistakes and people do things that are terrible, and this is an evil deed that he has done. But now he can show people that there’s still something left in him by turning himself in.”
Wiggins was identified as the suspect from video footage, Niland said.
He was already wanted on charges that he assaulted a woman and stole her car when he was pulled over Wednesday, according to a report from the Kingston Springs Police Department.
The woman, Ericka Miles-Castro, was arrested and charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in connection to Baker’s death.
The report said Miles-Castro told police early Tuesday that Wiggins had slapped her in the face and pulled out some of her hair, then put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her if she called police. She said he then grabbed her keys and took her car without her permission.
At the time of the report, Miles-Castro, 38, told police Wiggins was “doing meth all night and smoking marijuana.” She told police she planned to press charges, the report said.
The TBI said in a news release Wednesday that during the course of the investigation, authorities developed that she had “participated in the incident.”
She is being detained at the Dickson County Jail. It is not immediately known if she has an attorney.