Lincoln County Sheriff's Office deputy Michael Hutton. (Provided by Lincoln County Sheriff's Office)

A man investigators say shot a rural Colorado sheriff’s deputy was found dead not far from where the ambush attack occurred south of Limon early Thursday morning.

The man appears to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Captain Michael Yowell said in a briefing.

Yowell said Deputy Sheriff Michael Hutton was shot seconds after he responded to a report that merchandise was being stolen from the back of a semi-trailer parked near U.S. 40/287.

“He was approaching the back of the truck when he was met by gunfire,” Yowell said.

He did not identify the suspect.

“When we get back to the office, we’ll have a better idea of who deputy Hutton crossed in the middle of the night out there,” Hutton said.

Yowell said Hutton was struck “more than twice,” by handgun fire, but was not hit in the protective vest that he was wearing. Hutton, a member of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office for seven years, is in serious, but stable, condition at a metro Denver hospital.

The theft was reported around 3:15 a.m. by a professional truck driver who also was injured in the incident, but refused medical treatment on the scene, Yowell said.

Yowell said the response to the shooting and the hunt for the suspect was complicated by heavy fog along where U.S. 40/287 heads south from Interstate 70 near Limon. “Between the fog and the darkness, we didn’t know what we would find,” he said.

The suspect was found about 1,000 yards away from the scene after the fog broke.

Yowell said multiple reverse 911 calls went out to notify neighbors of what had occurred. A local landowner directed a tactical team to the man’s body. “For once in a great while in Eastern Colorado, it’s pretty green out here and we were able to see some different colors on the prairie and were able to deploy a team,” he said.

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