Authorities call off search for armed man in Big Bone Lick State Park

Locals asked to be on alert
Big Bone Lick State Park evacuated for manhunt
Big Bone Lick State Park evacuated for manhunt
Posted at 5:07 AM, Jun 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-17 23:36:16-04

UNION, Ky. -- A full-scale manhunt shut down Big Bone Lick State Park since Thursday night as police search for an armed man on the loose who they say could be a danger to himself or others. 

Officers with local law enforcement and the National Guard searched 278 acres throughout Friday morning and afternoon, ultimately calling off the search just after 5 p.m., according to Maj. Bill Mark of the Boone County Sheriff's Office. They asked area residents to stay on alert, and cautioned anyone who sees the subject, 62-year-old David Lee Rickerson, should consider him armed and dangerous and not approach.

The park reopened Friday afternoon, and police said they would continue to patrol the park throughout the weekend.

Police described Rickerson as a white male who is 6 foot 2 inches tall and weighs 225 pounds. Rickerson was listed as a critical missing person from Washington County, Maryland.

There are many unknowns in this situation: There's no known connection between Rickerson and the park; it's unknown whether he has committed any crimes in Maryland; and Rickerson's current mental state is also unknown.

What we do know is that a park ranger found an unoccupied Jeep near the park's lake around 10:30 p.m. Thursday. He ran the car's plates to discover that it was connected to Rickerson, a critically missing man from Washington County, Maryland. The ranger then saw Rickerson fire three shots from a 9mm handgun and run away. He was wearing a blue polo shirt and blue jeans. 

Shortly afterward, a reverse 911 call was sent to all residents within two miles of the park to tell them a volunteer evacuation is in effect. Those who wanted to leave received a police escort.

Police say darkness hindered their initial search for the man in the 525 wooded acres of the park. The search continued in earnest once Florence Police and Boone County SWAT teams arrived shortly after sunrise Friday. Members of the Kentucky National Guard arrived in a helicopter around 8:30 a.m. No injuries have been reported.


Police said there was a possible sighting of an individual running through a yard, so they extended the perimeter of the search. 

"We’ve made efforts to ensure that we’ve retained a perimeter around the park to keep this individual on the park premises if possible," Mark said.

State Route 338 (Beaver Road) remains open, but the entrance to park is closed. This weekend is expected to be a busy time for the park with Big Bone Lick Discovery Day scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. 

WCPO's Timyka Artist, T.J. Parker, Austin Fast, Sarah Sikorah, Ramsey Fulbright, Pat LaFleur, and Ashley Zilka contributed to this report.

Officials held a news conference at 11:45 a.m. Friday at the park with updates on the search. They hosted another conference at 1 p.m. See a timeline of events in the box below: