Sour Lake, TX – A Kentucky man accused of viciously beating a Sour Lake police officer and stealing his police car was apprehended on Tuesday after an overnight manhunt.
The incident began at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Monday night, when Sour Lake Police Officer William McKeon was dispatched to a report of a man loitering at the Valero gas station near Highway 326 and Highway 105, KFDM reported.
When the 59-year-old officer arrived at the scene, he was attacked and violently beaten by the unnamed 45-year-old suspect, who then fled the area in Officer McKeon’s patrol vehicle, Hardin County Sheriff Mark Davis said.
Officer McKeon, a four-year veteran-of-the-force, suffered “massive head trauma” and facial fractures during the assault, according to Sheriff Davis.
He was airlifted to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, where he is being treated in the intensive care unit, Sour Lake Police Chief Aaron Burleson said, according to KBMT.
Officer McKeon’s family said he is in an “induced coma,” and that doctors were initially concerned he had bleeding on his brain, KDFM reported.
He is expected to undergo “multiple surgeries ahead for multiple facial fractures including jaw, upper lip, nose and orbital bones,” his family said. “He has a small neck fracture that doesn’t require surgery. Long road ahead of him…Thank you for your continued prayers for him.”
Officer McKeon was listed in “very critical but stable condition” on Tuesday morning, Sheriff Davis told KDFM.
He is expected to recover, but it is “going to be a very long road,” the sheriff said.
A massive, multi-agency manhunt was launched to locate the attacker, who police said was believed to be armed, according to KBMT.
The search of the heavily wooded area also included multiple helicopters and K9 units, KDFM reported.
Investigators located Officer McKeon’s abandoned patrol vehicle about seven miles south of Kountze on the shoulder of Texas 326, according to KBMT.
He was apprehended by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers at approximately 6:45 a.m., but the details of his arrest have not been released.
Sheriff Davis said the suspect did not have any weapons on him at the time of his arrest, but that it is possible he may have discarded a weapon “somewhere along his path” after the attack.
Investigators are also conducting an inventory on Officer McKeon’s recovered patrol vehicle to ensure that any weapons he had inside the SUV have been accounted for, the sheriff said.
The suspect is believed to be a transient from Kentucky, according to the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office.
His identity is being withheld until he is formally charged, which is expected to occur sometime on Tuesday, KFDM reported.
Sheriff Davis praised the swift efforts of surrounding agencies who immediately rushed in to help Hardin County with the search.
“We are very fortunate…law enforcement works so well together, and we pool our assets,” he explained. “A lot of times it’s a challenge to be able to get a lot of officers in a short period of time.”
“For a smaller county, like Hardin County, we rely heavily on those relationships with other agencies,” the sheriff added. “We’re very grateful with the support that we’ve had and that we continue to have.”
The Texas Rangers are “taking the lead” with regards to the criminal charges being filed, Sheriff Davis noted.