HARVEST, AL (WAFF) - The Madison County Sheriff's Office said that the Florida murder suspect Steven Brooks who was in a standoff with authorities on Wednesday night in Harvest was killed by police following a pursuit in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
Officials believe 45-year-old Steven Brooks, was hiding in a wooded area near the Madison and Limestone County line. A standoff and police chase led to a massive manhunt that spanned many hours Wednesday into Thursday.
An overnight patrol supervisor was notified that a stolen vehicle from Limestone County had been located in South Strabane, Pennsylvania and that the driver was deceased after an officer-involved shooting with Pennsylvania State Troopers. Investigators confirmed that the subject was Steven Brooks.
Investigators say Pinellas Park police confirmed that homicide suspect Siddeeq Ma'Shooq (Steven Brooks) was located overnight in a stolen truck in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Investigators say Ma'Shooq led law enforcement on a pursuit, that ended in an officer-involved shooting.
At about 4 p.m. Thursday, the Madison County Sheriff's Office announced they were "standing down" the perimeter around a wooded property on Love Branch Road.
"He may have been able to get outside the perimeter last night and got a ride or is hiding out somewhere else in a wooded area," said Lt. Donny Shaw, spokesman for the Madison County Sheriff's Office.
Police did extensive searches of the area, using K-9 teams and helicopters and but did not have any contact with Steven Brooks, who is wanted for murder in Pinellas Park, Florida.
Notices have been put out to all surrounding law enforcement to be on the lookout for Brooks.
The U.S.Marshals Service will also continue working to track him down.
Residents will see a heavy police presence in the area as patrols continue.
Lt. Shaw tweeted there is a $3,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
It all started when the U.S. Marshals Service tracked Brooks to Madison County.
On Wednesday night, the Marshals and local law enforcement surrounded a home on Logan Berry Lane in Harvest. Brooks barricaded himself inside the house. Other occupants in the home got out safely.
Police started talking to Brooks over the phone, but he cut off communication after dark.
The power was cut in the neighborhood at about 9:30 p.m.
"At some point, he came out of the garage in a vehicle, striking two U.S. Marshals' vehicles. He did a turn in the road in front of the residence and the pursuit started. The pursuit continued out to this area of Yarbrough and Love Branch Road or County Line Road," said Shaw.
That vehicle almost hit local news crews. No one was injured.
During the pursuit, which spanned several miles, Brooks drove onto a wooded property. His getaway car caught on fire and he was able to get out of it and dodge police. A perimeter was set up to block off the area.
Multiple K-9 units were out and the state helicopter was up with infrared optics. An airplane was also used in the search.
Brooks was last seen wearing black pants and a black over brown shirt.
Residents refer to the spot they're searching as the LB Nelson property. They say they've never seen a police operation like this in their neighborhood.
"We've lived next to the correctional facility in all these years and we've had escapees, but nothing like this and there hasn't been an escapee over there in a long time," said Ray Wales. "They'll get him."
Brooks is wanted for the murder of Caroline Morton-Hicks, 59, of St. Petersburg, Florida. She was a talented musician who was fatally shot after leaving a practice session in February in Pinellas Park. Morton-Hicks was Brooks' landlord and had recently started the eviction process against him, according to police, over disagreements about rent money he owed her and her displeasure with handyman work he was doing for her at her other rental properties in an effort to pay the rent off.
The day after the murder, he fled to Harvest.
According to the sheriff's office, a friend of Brooks who lives on Logan Berry Lane in Harvest, the neighborhood where the standoff happened, went to Florida to pick him up and brought him back to Madison County. It will be up to investigators if that person will face charges. The acquaintance of Brooks knows the residents of the home, Shaw said.
Pennsylvania State Troopers identified the person as Brooks' estranged girlfriend.
The Madison County Sheriff's Office, Limestone County Sheriff's Office, Huntsville police, Madison police, the Harvest Fire Department and U.S. Marshals Service have all been involved in the case.
The Limestone County Correctional Facility K-9 Unit conducted a ground search and state helicopters combed the area.
The U.S. Marshals brought in additional personnel from Birmingham to help with the search.
According to news reports out of Florida, Morton-Hicks loved playing her trombone and rehearsing and performing with groups across Pinellas County. She was killed after leaving practice with the Pinellas Park Civic Orchestra at the Pinellas Park Performing Arts Center on the night of Feb. 12.
According to Pinellas Park Police, she was "involved in some sort of altercation in an adjacent parking lot between the Performing Arts Center and City Hall" with another person. Following the encounter, she ran from the parking lot and was shot in the 5100 block of 78th Avenue.
On Thursday, Pinellas Park Police stated that after conducting an extensive investigation into the murder, they recently obtained an arrest warrant for Siddeeq Ma'Shooq, who is also known as Steven Brooks of St. Petersburg, Florida.
The department's press release went on to state:
Court records from Pinellas County, Florida state he was convicted of third-degree murder in 1991. This was for a fatal hit-and-run in 1989. He was sentenced to 20 years with concurrent 10 year sentences for grant theft motor vehicle, felony leaving the scene of a crash and one other traffic offense. The record states: "He was sentenced as a habitual violent felony offender based on his record already."
Multiple schools took safety precautions during the manhunt Thursday. All schools in the affected area operated on a normal schedule but students remained inside for recess and physical education.
For safety reasons, Sparkman High School, Sparkman Ninth, Madison Cross Roads School, Harvest Elementary, Monrovia Middle and Elementary School and Legacy School and Endeavor School in Madison County were all on a lockout.
Creekside Primary, Creekside Elementary, and East Limestone High School were put on modified lockdown, which means that all doors were locked down, but classes still went on inside. It is the same as a soft lockdown.
Residents were surprised to see the manhunt unfold in their neighborhood.
"We got a phone call last night about the guy they were looking for. We talked to SWAT. They came and apologized for the inconvenience. I told them it was no problem," Wales said.
He thanked authorities for all of their hard work.
According to Lt. Shaw, Brooks was picked up by a friend in Florida and brought to Madison County. Officials don't believe he has ever been to this part of Alabama before and they don't think he knows anyone here but that one person who picked him up, so as far as coordinating with other people or planning ahead for any of this, officials don't think that happened or that he had those resources.
The sheriff's office is still encouraging residents to be aware of their surroundings. Keep doors locked. Don't answer door or pick up any strangers.
Authorities are also looking into a stolen 2016 white Chevy Silverado 3500 Heavy Duty.
It was taken nine miles west of the wooded property at 1 a.m. Thursday morning in Limestone County. While Shaw says police aren't sure how Brooks could have covered that much ground, the Limestone County Sheriff's Office is checking into any possible connections.
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