2 troopers 'ambushed'; escaped convict sought


The Associated Press

FREDONIA, New York — Two New York state troopers were in critical condition Friday after being shot with what investigators believe was a high-powered rifle fired by an escaped convict.

Joseph Longobardo, 32, and Donald Baker Jr., 38, were shot Thursday evening in Chautauqua County in western New York, State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett said. Escaped convict Ralph "Bucky" Phillips is the prime suspect in the shootings, he said.

"It's clear to me the troopers were ambushed," Bennett said.

One trooper was shot in the back with a bullet that pierced his bullet-resistant vest and exited through his abdomen, Bennett said. The other was shot in the thigh and suffered massive blood loss due to a severed artery, he said.

Neither trooper saw Phillips before they were shot.

Bennett, who flew from Albany to the state police barracks in Fredonia late Thursday, ordered 75 additional troopers to help with the manhunt for Phillips around western New York.

Phillips, 44, escaped on April 2 from the Erie County jail, where he was sent for violating parole on a burglary conviction, police said.

He is wanted in the June 10 shooting of a state trooper near Elmira. Trooper Sean Brown survived after being shot in the abdomen as he approached a stolen car believed to be driven by Phillips.

Since his escape, Phillips has evaded police and helped himself to food, clothes and guns from unattended homes and hunting cabins in western New York.

He is believed to have stolen about 15 cars since his escape, police said.

Last weekend, Phillips was suspected of stealing several weapons from a gun shop and a nearby car, state police said.

Police believe Phillips has been traveling back and forth between Philadelphia and New York state, Bennett said.

A $50,000 reward offered for information leading to Phillips' arrest and conviction has so far not stopped friends and family members from helping him avoid capture, police said.

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