Police believe a former law enforcement officer turned armed fugitive who has caused more than one lockdown at suburban schools in the Chicago area this week is hiding out in the woods south of Earlville.
Authorities say Max Ambler likely picked the area because he hunts there and knows it well. They've called off the search until tomorrow morning, noting the difficulty of continuing the manhunt into the pitch-black forest at nighttime.
On Wednesday evening--heavily armed police converged on the wooded area just south of Route 34 near Earlville.
"He's armed we believe with a .45 caliber semi automatic pistol," said LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton. "He's on the run. He's, I'm sure, very desperate right now."
Police focused their search on the wooded area after two LaSalle County sheriff's deputies spotted a stolen vehicle and noticed a campsite nearby.
"When they pulled up they saw the campsite and they saw ambler bolt from campsite ... into the woods," Templeton said.
Ambler has been on the run for days after fleeing from police who tried to arrest him for a bond violation.
Investigators believe he stole a corn hauling truck near Mendot and then ditched it in Plainfield where he carjacked a man at gunpoint Wednesday morning.
"I knew who it was, so I wasn't surprised because I heard he was armed and dangerous," the carjacking victim, who NBC 5 is not naming, said.
The victim--who spoke exclusively with NBC 5-- encountered Ambler while checking in on his recently deceased uncle's barn.
"That's when he took me to the other part of the barn and told me sit in the straw," he said.
Ambler is a former LaSalle County sheriff's deputy.
Now being sought--by those who used to call him one of their own.
"It's never something that you hope will ever happen, but it is what it is," Templeton said.
Police are now guarding the perimeter and also keeping an eye on homes in the area.
If Ambler doesn't emerge overnight, authorities say, they'll begin searching again in the morning.