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Archive for Saturday, September 9, 2006

Shooting suspect arrested after manhunt

Fugitive on FBI’s Most Wanted list surrenders after being cornered

September 9, 2006

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— 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 field just over the Pennsylvania border 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 included troopers firing at Phillips earlier in the day 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 field where he was thought to be hiding. He gave himself up about 8 p.m., police said.

"A few of my guys had spotted him in an open field, the helicopter zeroed in on him," said Lenny DePaul, commanding officer of the U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force.

He did not know what condition Phillips was in. In a photo taken as he was driven away from the field, Phillips looked gaunt, dirty and exhausted.

"He could run but he couldn't hide," said New York State Police Supt. Wayne Bennett. "The bottom line is the pressure was so great on him. The game was up and he knew it."

Phillips was being taken to a jail in Buffalo and was to be arraigned this morning. He faces a charge of attempted murder in connection with the shooting of a state trooper on June 10.

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.

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