- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
N.Y. manhunt ends with surrender
By CAROLYN THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer 15 minutes ago
A fugitive suspected of fatally shooting a New York state trooper and wounding two others while on the run for more than five months surrendered to police who had cornered him in a cornfield just over the Pennsylvania state line on Friday night.
Ralph "Bucky" Phillips walked out with his hands up, ending the state's largest manhunt for the 44-year-old career thief who broke out of a Buffalo-area jail in April, New York State Police Investigator Gary Colon said.
The arrest capped a frantic day of searching that started with troopers firing at Phillips as he dodged authorities in a wooded area.
For hours, police had methodically moved closer to Phillips. Just before nightfall, 25 SWAT officers and 12 dogs swept through a cornfield where he was thought to be hiding. He gave himself up around 8 p.m., police said.
Phillips, who had threatened "suicide by cop" and once promised to "splatter pig meat all over Chautauqua County," was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.
Since his escape, he has twisted and turned his way throughout southwestern New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, eluding a huge manhunt, stealing cars, burglarizing homes and camps and relying on a network of acquaintances to stay free, police said. He may have stolen 41 guns from a New York gun shop, authorities said.
A U.S. Marshals Service task force joined the investigation Wednesday and had about 30 investigators on the ground, commanding officer Lenny DePaul said.
He said the agencies were proceeding deliberately to prevent any accidents: "Everybody's in the woods and wearing different uniforms and everything else, and this guy is shooting back. It doesn't make it any easier for us."
Friday's search started shortly before 2 a.m. in Pennsylvania when a police officer tried to pull over a stolen car. After a short chase, the car crashed and the driver, identified by police as Phillips, fled into the woods.
A half-hour later, Phillips stole a second car and drove back into New York, where troopers located him and launched a second chase, authorities said.
Phillips jumped out of the moving car and ducked into woods, zigzagging back and forth between New York and Pennsylvania, authorities said. Police dogs tracked his scent for several hours until he was spotted by two troopers, Bennett said.
As troopers approached, Phillips wheeled around with a pistol in his hand but did not fire, police said. One of the troopers fired an undisclosed number of shots as Phillips disappeared into the thick woods.
Phillips became the subject of a huge search after allegedly shooting a state trooper near Elmira in June. The trooper survived.
Then, authorities said, he ambushed and shot two New York state troopers on Aug. 31 as they staked out the home of Phillips' former girlfriend. One trooper died on Sunday; the other was in critical condition.