FULTON, Mo. (AP) 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, who was believed to be armed, possibly with a high-powered rifle. Authorities warned that anyone who has had "negative" contact with Maylee to call police. Authorities did not have an age for Maylee.
Sgt. Robert Bruchsaler, a spokesman for the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad, said Wednesday that the gunman used a high-powered rifle and a handgun. He 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.
A woman who answered a phone number registered to Maylee identified herself as his mother, Paula Cook. She said she had not heard from her son, who she described as a "great kid."
"I pray to God it's not true," she said of any involvement by her son, who travels from job to job operating a backhoe and other large equipment.
Maylee is being sought in the shooting deaths of 46-year-old Jeffrey Werdehausen of Holts Summit, 48-year-old Eugene Pinet and 57-year-old Jackie Pinet. Authorities did not release details about when and where they were killed.
Werdehausen's wife, 41-year-old Gina Werdehausen, was also shot and was in critical condition at University Hospital in Columbia. The University of Missouri-Columbia said the hospital was on lockdown out of fear the gunman could show up. No other buildings on campus were affected.
"We believe the rest of campus is safe at this time," university police chief Jack Watring said.
Two grade schools in Jefferson City, near Holts Summit, were also on lockdown.
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."
Maylee was charged earlier this month in Callaway County with theft. Details were not immediately available.
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