ATLANTA (Reuters) - A man who shot to death a Georgia detective and wounded another officer on a rural road on Friday was arrested hours later, after he emerged naked from a wooded area, police said.
Seth Brandon Spangler, 31, was arrested in Cedartown, less than 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Atlanta, concluding a manhunt that began when two officers were shot as they examined a stolen vehicle, Polk County Chief Kenny Dodd said at a news conference.
Another suspect, Samantha Ruth, 22, who was with Spangler when he opened fire on the officers and escaped with him, was arrested separately, police said. Both Spangler and Ruth were charged with murder and aggravated assault.
It was the first time an officer of the Polk County Police Department, in northwest Georgia, was killed in the line of duty since the department was established in the 1950s, Dodd said.
Before the shooting, Polk County police officer David Goodrich went to check on a report of a suspicious car parked on an empty stretch of road near Cedartown, Dodd said. Goodrich found a Ford Escape which had been reported stolen in Tennessee.
Goodrich called for back-up and detective Kristen Hearne, 29, arrived and looked at the car.
Spangler and Ruth emerged from the tree line, and when questioned by the officers the man and women said they had been at a lake, Dodd said. After the officers challenged their story, Spangler opened fire on them, the chief said.
“It was an ambush,” the chief told reporters. He did not provide further details to support the contention.
Spangler and Ruth are believed to have some connection to the stolen car, Dodd said.
Hearne was in plainclothes, wearing a polo shirt, and her bullet-proof vest was left in her car, Dodd said. She died in the shooting.
“It was not common for detectives to wear their vests,” Dodd said. “Maybe that’s a policy we need to revisit.”
Gunfire struck Goodrich on his bullet-proof vest, police said. He was treated at a hospital and released.
The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear.
Police officers, with the help of dogs, were searching for Spangler’s clothing and the firearm he is believed to have used in the shooting, Dodd said.
Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall, Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis,; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Lisa Shumaker