By Tim Ghianni
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - A manhunt was under way on Sunday in Tennessee for a parolee suspected of fatally shooting a Memphis police officer who apparently interrupted a drug transaction when he stopped to investigate an illegally parked car, police said.
The slain policeman, Sean Bolton, 33, was confronted by the gunman and shot multiple times during a brief scuffle after the officer pulled up to the parked car and shined his spotlight on the vehicle, Memphis police said in a statement.
The gunman and another man who was in the driver's seat of the car then fled on foot, and a citizen who found Bolton shot a short time later called for help on the officer's radio, according to police.
Fellow officers arriving on the scene discovered a small bag of marijuana and digital scales in the suspects' car, surmising that Bolton had encountered the two men as they were conducting some kind of a drug deal, police said.
Investigators also recovered a handgun in a field near the shooting scene, the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper reported.
Bolton, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served a tour of duty in Iraq and joined the Memphis police force in October 2010, was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The driver of the parked car later turned himself in to authorities and has since been released without charge, police said.
But a warrant was issued for the arrest of the suspected gunman, identified as 29-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn, charging him with first-degree murder, according to Memphis police.
The police statement said Wilbourn was on supervised-release from prison, where he had been serving a 10-year sentence for bank robbery, at the time of this weekend's shooting.
The U.S. Marshals Service has posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest, police said.
Bolton became the third Memphis police officer to be shot and killed during the past four years.
(Reporting by Tim Ghianni from Nashville; Additional reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sandra Maler)