Police were scouring central Missouri on Wednesday for a man they called a person of interest in overnight shootings that left three people dead and one wounded.
Police said they were seeking Joshua William Maylee and warned that anyone who has had "negative" contact with him to call police.
Maylee was being sought in the shooting deaths of Jeffrey Werdehausen, 46, of Holts Summit, Eugene Pinet, 48, and Jackie Pinet, 57. Authorities said there were two separate crime scenes but did not release details about when and where the people were killed.
Werdehausen's wife, 41-year-old Gina Werdehausen, also was shot and was in critical condition at University Hospital in Columbia.
Sgt. Robert Bruchsaler of the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad said Wednesday that the gunman used a high-powered rifle and a handgun. Speaking to reporters outside the Callaway County Sheriff Department in Fulton, Bruchsaler said authorities believe the gunman acted alone.
Bruchsaler did not discuss a specific motive but said police believe the shootings were not random and that the victims were targeted. He said the reason they may been targeted was part of the investigation.
"They are known to this individual. The public can relax, he is not out there randomly shooting people," Bruchsaler said.
A woman who answered a phone number listed for Maylee identified herself as his mother, Paula Cook. She said she had not heard from her son, whom she described as a "great kid."
"I pray to God it's not true," she said of any involvement by her son, who she said travels from job to job operating a backhoe and other large equipment.
Law officers say Maylee is 23 years old, about 6 feet tall and weighs around 180 pounds. He has blue eyes and is balding. He may be driving a four-door silver Pontiac Bonneville. Earlier, authorities said they were searching for a black truck but said later that it had been recovered and was not Maylee's vehicle.
Bruchsaler said authorities are looking for Maylee based on a possible visual identification and the description of a vehicle. He said law officers have been pursing more than 60 leads but that no one from the public has reported seeing Maylee and authorities are unsure if he is in the area.
Shanna Wyatt, 34, a niece of Jeffrey Werdehausen, said the assailant come to her uncle's home Tuesday night. She said that when Gina Werdehausen heard the dogs barking and went outside to investigate, she was shot in the neck. Wyatt said the person then went inside and shot Jeffrey Werdehausen, the father of two children and two stepchildren.
"It's completely unexpected," said Wyatt, also of Holts Summit. "It's a very small community. He has a lot of friends."
Holts Summit has a population of about 3,800 people and is northeast of the state Capitol in Jefferson City. It is in Callaway County, a largely rural county just north of the Missouri River and east of Columbia.
The University of Missouri-Columbia said the hospital was placed on lockdown out of fear the gunman could show up. No other buildings on campus were affected. Two grade schools in Jefferson City, near Holts Summit, also were on lockdown.
Maylee was charged earlier this month in Callaway County with theft. Details were not immediately available.
Associated Press writers Maria Fisher in Kansas City, Mo., and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.