MARINETTE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Investigators are working to positively identify a man who was shot and killed by officers in Marinette County early Thursday morning.
"The deceased is not someone known to us at this point," says Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve. "It could be quite awhile before we make and are prepared to give you a positive identification."
The sheriff confirmed that two officers with the city police department and two deputies were at the scene. They were not hurt. They have been placed on administrative leave, which is protocol during officer-involved shooting investigations.
"The officers made a decision that their lives were in danger," Sheriff Sauve said Thursday during the news conference.
The Sheriff's Office says city police received a 911 call at 12:10 a.m. from motel employees in Marinette for an incident involving a man with a handgun. Investigators still aren't sure if the call was prompted by a robbery attempt or a domestic situation.
"They called because they confirmed obviously that there was a gun involved in this incident," Sheriff Sauve said.
The man, described as a white male in his 30s, was not there. Officers used cell phone tracking to narrow down the location of the suspect to a home on State Highway 64 in the Town of Peshtigo.
At 3 a.m., officers and deputies traveled to this home and saw the suspect get into a vehicle and take off west on the highway.
Officers tried to stop the car on Schacht Road. The car went into a ditch. The Sheriff's Office says the suspect was armed with a gun when he got out of the vehicle. The Sheriff's Office says this "placed the officers in danger."
"I know that he was armed when he exited the vehicle. I do not know if he fired or did not comply with commands from our officers. I don't know that yet. But we will know that," Sheriff Sauve says.
The man was shot and killed by officers. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators have not identified the officers or deputies. They're still working to investigate who fired upon the suspect.
"I know there was long gun fire and handgun fire by the officers. I don't know if two, three or all four of them fired yet," Sheriff Sauve says.
A witness named Adam told Action 2 News he was on his way to work at about 3:30 a.m. when he saw six police vehicles heading west on Highway 64.
"The guy that ended up getting shot turned left onto Schacht Road, and that's when the cop made contact with the car, stopped the car from going anywhere. The rest of the cops circled around it. I seen him step out of the vehicle but I didn't see him get shot, and then after that he was on the ground and yeah they were doing their thing," said the witness, identified only as Adam.
Adam said it could have ended with more people hurt.
"It's scary, you know. Somebody could get really hurt from that," Adam said. "I mean, with this morning, roads were a little slick. He could've wiped out and hit somebody head-on. That would've been real bad. Then you had six cops behind him. That would've been a huge pileup."
The investigation also continues into what happened earlier at the motel, which the sheriff declined to name.
"There was an incident at a room in the motel where a handgun was shown through the door," Sheriff Sauve says. "And then there was some sort of action taken to close the door and get that person away from it."
The sheriff says the motel has video of the incident.
"The motel has some video, and they looked at that even before they called 911, and then they called because they confirmed obviously there was a gun involved in this incident," Sheriff Sauve said.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the officer-involved shooting.
Highway 64 was closed for several hours. It re-opened to traffic at 4:26 p.m.