NEWCOMERSTOWN The U.S. Marshal's Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Ohio Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies from Tuscarawas, Coshocton and Guernsey counties are looking for two men and a Geo Tracker in connection with the shooting of a Newcomerstown police officer Tuesday morning.
"Most law enforcement across the state of Ohio is aware of what we're looking for," police Chief Gary Holland said Wednesday. "The investigation goes on. We're looking for a black Geo Tracker, which was occupied by two white males. And we're just following up whatever leads we can get at this point in time.
"Everybody's doing everything they can to see if we can locate this dude. I'm confident we'll eventually catch him."
The gunman who shot Officer Bryan J. Eubanks in the forearm after a traffic stop is described as having tattoos along his neck and short brown hair. The Tracker has a hard top, two doors, tinted windows, black rims and wide tires.
Holland said a license-plate reader on Eubanks' patrol car might yield information about possible witnesses. The device automatically collects data from passing vehicles, but police must download it before they can begin contacting other drivers who might have seen or heard something significant.
Newcomerstown police do not wear body-mounted cameras. Holland said the camera on the cruiser Eubanks was using is broken.
Holland said Eubanks stopped the Tracker because it displayed no visible license plates. In the split second Eubanks looked in the SUV, Holland said, the officer saw materials that could have been components of a mobile methamphetamine laboratory.
The chief said the fact drug-producing equipment can be transported in vehicles has added a new level of complexity to policing.
"You've always had issues with drugs," he said. "But I think it's more prevalent. And then, you didn't have the drugs being manufactured in the cars when I first started.
"The dangers have always been there. I can remember back when I started 27 years ago, taking individuals out of cars that had guns on while they had drugs. That potential's always been there."
In an interview with Times-Reporter news partner WTOV Channel 9, Holland said, "Even in small towns like Newcomerstown, you can never underestimate what an officer is going to deal with on a daily basis."
The chief also told the Steubenville television station that he sensed something was wrong as he listened to police radio traffic about the traffic stop Eubanks made at 10:08 a.m. Tuesday.
"You get to the point where you know the voice, the sound, the stress in their voice," Holland said. "And when he spoke, I heard stress there that wasn't typical. And I was up before he ever said anything about shots or that he'd been shot, because I knew something was wrong. And before I hit the hallway to grab the keys, that's when he responded that shots were fired."
Eubanks told the television station's reporter that the vehicle's passenger shot at him twice, hitting him once, after he approached the driver's side of the vehicle.
"God has blessed me today," Eubanks told WTOV on Tuesday. "He was definitely on my side. It could have turned out way worse."
A Facebook post from Mayor Pat Cadle said Eubanks drove himself to the fire station, where an ambulance took him to the hospital.
"We are thankful for his safety," the mayor wrote.
Holland said he is trying to find a way to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the assailants.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Newcomerstown police at 330-498-6161.
Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or email@example.com.
On Twitter: @nmolnarTR