PLAINFIELD – The LaSalle County Sheriff's Department is searching near Earlville for Lowell Maxwell "Max" Ambler, who they believe is nearby, as of 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Ambler is suspected of an armed carjacking in Plainfield on Wednesday morning after there was a manhunt in the Plainfield area for Ambler on Tuesday.
That car, a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe, was recovered in LaSalle County later Wednesday, near where the manhunt has continued.
Ambler, 46, of Mendota, is believed to have removed the driver of that burgundy Santa Fe at gunpoint and stole his vehicle in Plainfield.
Plainfield Police say they responded to 119th Street, west of Van Dyke Road, at 8:24 a.m. and met with the victim, who was on a relative’s property when a subject requested a ride and subsequently produced a handgun and demanded his vehicle.
The victim turned over his vehicle, police said, and the suspect immediately fled the area in an unknown direction. The victim, who said the suspect resembled Ambler, flagged down a passerby and was able to call 911.
Police arrived in the area and were unable to locate the vehicle. The Will County Sheriff’s Department was contacted, due to the incident occurring in their jurisdiction. A short time later they arrived on scene and will be handling the investigation.
Ambler is considered armed and dangerous, and may have a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, Lee County Sheriff John Simonton has said.
Ambler, a former LaSalle County deputy, was out on bond when he apparently violated the terms of his release by contacting the mother of the teenage girl – who is from Plainfield – he's accused of holding against her will.
Shortly after noon Tuesday, Plainfield police received a state police emergency response message regarding Ambler, indicating he was riding in a stolen semi-tractor trailer and possibly en route to the northwest portion of Plainfield. He was considered armed and dangerous.
Ambler had active arrest warrants in Lee and LaSalle counties for violating the conditions of his of bail bond and violating a protective order.
Plainfield police officers located the stolen semi-tractor trailer, which was unoccupied, on Normantown Road north of 119th Street on Tuesday.
Local schools, including Plainfield North High School, were placed on soft lockdowns on Tuesday and a reverse 911 alert of that area was made so residents could take shelter.
Police units from surrounding towns and federal agents were called in to conduct an exhaustive search that scoured residential areas, commercial areas, abandoned buildings, farm houses, agricultural fields and more, according to Plainfield police.
Ambler was arrested Sept. 15 and charged with home invasion and aggravated kidnapping, both of which carry six to 30 years in prison. He posted $25,000 of his $250,000 bond on Sept. 20, Lee County Court records show.
A warrant was issued for Ambler's arrest after he contacted the girl's mother on Sunday, Simonton said. Law enforcement has been looking for him since.
Violating the terms of his release is a misdemeanor; Ambler was charged with that on Monday, when the warrant was issued.
He had made a court appearance Wednesday in the felony case; he has another hearing set for Nov. 6.
The girl's mother said that he has a .20- and a .12-gauge shotgun, a 9 mm handgun and a muzzleloader. He has an unspecified job in Yorkville, she told authorities.
"My worst fear is that if he bails out, he will think he has noting left to lose and come to kill me or my daughter," she told authorities. "I also fear that he knows how to get away with things since he is a former deputy."
Ambler, a former Earlville police officer, is white, 6-foot, 200 to 230 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair.
Ambler started his career as a LaSalle County deputy on July 24, 2000, according to the sheriff's office, and he resigned on June 15, 2015.
Anyone who sees Ambler, or who has any information, is advised not to approach him, but to call the Lee County Sheriff's Department at 815-284-5217, Mendota police at 815-539-9331, or the anonymous reward tip line, Lee-Ogle Crime Stoppers, at 888-228-4411.