Schools closed for 2nd day amid manhunt in rural Kentucky

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Posted: Oct 27, 2015 5:23 PM
Schools closed for 2nd day amid manhunt in rural Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — As the manhunt for a fugitive accused of shooting at law officers in two states stretched into its fourth day, police widened the search area and a fearful school district canceled classes for a second straight day.

The investigation into Floyd Ray Cook's whereabouts turned up multiple leads that expanded the hunt statewide, said Kentucky State Police Trooper Billy Gregory. Whether Cook now has a companion and a pickup truck were among leads being pursued.

The 62-year-old Cook, facing an attempted-murder charge in Tennessee, might have access to a beige 2006 Ford Ranger with a Kentucky license plate, Gregory said.

"It's a vehicle that we could not account for through the course of the investigation that someone said he may have had access to," he said, adding that Cook may also now be accompanied by another man. He described the two as possible "associates."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service joined in the hunt for Cook, a convicted rapist and robber who authorities warn should be considered "armed and dangerous." He was wanted for allegedly violating the sex offender registry and trafficking methamphetamine.

When a Tennessee offer pulled him over Saturday, Cook allegedly opened fire, authorities said. The officer's life was saved by his bulletproof vest, they said.

Less than two hours later, Kentucky authorities recognized his truck and tried to stop him. Cook tried to flee but wrecked his vehicle and then fired at a state trooper, police said. The trooper was not hit and returned fire.

Cook ran into the hilly, wooded countryside in Cumberland County, Kentucky, which borders Tennessee.

Investigators were going through a list of "people and places and things to check out," Gregory said. But there have been no sightings of him since Sunday, when a couple said he broke into their rural Cumberland County home. The couple fled and contacted authorities.

Meanwhile, classes were canceled again Tuesday in the Cumberland County school district.

The local superintendent, Kirk Biggerstaff, said he didn't want students waiting for buses in sparsely populated neighborhoods that overlapped the search area.

"We still feel that student safety is compromised somewhat with this unique situation," Biggerstaff said.

Cook was believed to be on foot after the shootout with the Kentucky trooper.

"He's as dangerous as they come," Gregory said. "I would say anyone that has any contact with him is in danger."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation added Cook to its Top Ten Most Wanted list and described him as arimed and dangerous.

Cook is described as a 6-foot, 160-pound white male with blue eyes, gray facial hair and gray, balding hair. His possible companion was described as a 5-11, 220-pound white male with green eyes and short brown and gray hair.

Cook was convicted of a series of crimes including rape, burglary, robbery, assault and riot in Kentucky in the 1970s and 1980s, according to state corrections department records. He was convicted of raping a 19-year-old in Marion County in 1971, records showed. He was required to register as a sex offender and remain on parole for the rest of his life.

Cook was indicted in July on charges of first-degree trafficking in methamphetamine and tampering with physical evidence, according to Hardin County court records in Kentucky. He was scheduled for arraignment in August but did not appear.

He listed an address in Lebanon, Kentucky, on his sex offender registration form.

Several months ago, the Marion County Sheriff's Office, making routine checks on the sex offenders in the county, discovered he was no longer living there, said Sheriff Jimmy Clements.

Deputies there took out a warrant for his arrest and started searching for him. They discovered he was living at an address in the tiny town of Raywick, Kentucky. They staked out the home but were never able to catch him.