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PRINCETON - A search was underway Friday for suspects after a Mercer County deputy was shot at while investigating an early-morning home invasion near Maple Acres Road.

A home invasion and robbery was reported early Friday morning at Pauli Heights on Maple Acres Road, Detective M.S Horn of the Mercer County Sheriff's Department said. The suspects fled the area, and a witness told deputies at the scene that they went into the nearby woods and "shot at us."

“Deputy (G.C.) Paitsel went to walk up into the woods, and whenever he went to walk up into the woods, he heard a gunshot that was close enough it made his ears ring,” Horn stated.

No arrests had been made as of Friday morning. The incident occurred between midnight and 7 a.m., Horn stated.

“It was a home invasion and robbery,” Horn said.

The suspects’ mode of operation or MO was similar to an armed robbery which occurred Jan. 26 at B Ray Street near Princeton, Horn said. In that robbery, four men wearing ski masks and armed with guns robbed a residence. Two suspects were arrested. Chief Deputy Joe Parks said soon after the incident that they were attempting to rob drugs out of the house.

Horn said Friday after the arraignment of two men in a similar but unrelated robbery that cases of drug dealers robbing other drug dealers are becoming more frequent in the area.

Horn said more than one gang could be robbing drug dealers of money and drugs.

“You’re easily looking at three different groups” he stated.

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