Georgia fugitive shot dead on I-90

Wednesday, March 24, 2021
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Christopher Earl Cook (Franklin, Ga., Police photo)

A Georgia fugitive led multiple law enforcement agencies on a two-county chase that reached speeds of 100 mph Tuesday morning and ended with him being shot dead by two U.S. Marshals on I-90.

Christopher Earl Cook, 41, was pronounced dead at the scene following a “shots fired” radio transmission at 9:50 a.m. The location of the shooting was the westbound lane of the Twin Bridges, between the Springtime Exit and Reed Point.

Cook’s name had not been officially released Tuesday, but a Franklin, Ga., newspaper reported Tuesday night that Cook was the fugitive involved. Stillwater County Sheriff/Coroner Chip Kem positively identified Cook late Wednesday afternoon.

No officers or civilians were injured in the dramatic series of events that began in Yellowstone County at approximately 9:27 a.m.

Cook was wanted by the U.S. Marshals’ Violent Offender Task Force on a stalking and intimidation warrant. U.S. Marshals attempted to make a traffic stop on Cook in his Ford F250 truck near Laurel, which launched a 35-mile chase west on I-90 involving the U.S. Marshals, Montana Highway Patrol and Stillwater County Sheriff’s deputies, according to a press release from Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Timothy Hornung.

At 9:27 a.m., MHP requested assistance from Stillwater County lawmen, with multiple deputies responding.

At 9:32 a.m., speeds were reportedly at 100 mph and Cook’s front left tire was down.

At 9:38 a.m., Cook hit a set of spike strips at mile marker 414. As Cook neared Columbus, Police Chief Gary Timm closed down the schools and prepared to block the exit, according to dispatch records.

At 9:42 a.m., Columbus police reported that Cook had passed mile marker 408, continuing westbound past Columbus, according to Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office dispatch reports.

At 9:44 a.m., MHP requested that Columbus Fire Rescue be on standby as Cook was “riding on rims,” having hit two different sets of spike strips, according to dispatch records and MHP Capt. Keith Edgell. Cook was also reportedly pointing a gun to his head, according to dispatch records.

At 9:48 a.m., two Sweet Grass County deputies were in place, blocking the Reed Point exit.

At that point, Cook was travelling at 95 mph.

At 9:49 a.m., MHP performed a PIT maneuver (pursuit intervention technique), ending the chase at mile marker 399, said Edgell.

Cook got out of his truck, began to walk away and then turned around to face officers while brandishing a gun and refusing to comply with commands.

“As a result of the perceived threat, two Deputy U.S. Marshals discharged their agency approved firearms and struck the suspect multiple times,” Hornung said in the press release.

At 9:50 a.m., Stillwater County Sheriff Chip Kem and Deputy Luke Bruuresma reported shots fired and summoned medical help.

Cook was declared dead at the scene. His body was eventually taken to the state crime lab in Billings.

The United States Marshal Service Office of Professional Responsibility was sent to the scene, as was the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigations.

Westbound I-90 from Columbus to Reed Point was shut down until 3:46 p.m., causing traffic to backup on the road for miles. Diverted traffic produced substantial congestion in Columbus, as semis and passenger cars stacked up. 

Snow began to fall in the area around 10:15 a.m.

COOK

According to the HeardCitizen.com in Franklin, Ga., police have been looking for Cook since at least March 20. A warrant for aggravated stalking was issued for Cook on March 10.

Cook also had an outstanding charge of making terroristic threats, according to the HeardCitizen.com.

Georgia authorities had been in communication with Cook, trying to negoiate a surrender before he left the area.

This is the second officer involved shooting to occur in Stillwater County in five months.

The first occurred in November 2020 involving a Wyoming man who was shot and killed by a Montana Highway Patrol trooper following a chase that spanned two counties and involved the man throwing flaming objects out is vehicle window.

The Montana Division of Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation as a deputy was also involved. DCI turned its results over to the Stillwater County Attorney’s Office.