By Rocco Parascandola, Lauren Johnston, Joeseph Mallia and Michael Dobie
Related: 2 NYPD officers shot during traffic stop
The third suspect in the shooting of two young New York City police officers was apprehended in the Poconos Thursday morning, police there said.
Pennsylvania law enforcement officers reported Robert Ellis was in police custody and headed for questioning.
Search dogs picked up Ellis' scent and led Pennsylvania state police to a wooded area along Route 80 near the Interstate-380 interchange just west of Stroudsberg, where he was arrested along the westbound lanes, Captain James Murtin of the Pennsylvania state police said.
Members of the Pennsylvania State Police tactical team prepare to leave a command post set up in a rest stop along Interstate 80 near Scotrun, Pa., early Thursday morning. They were heading up the road to do a night time search of a wooded median where they are looking for a suspect in the shooting of two NYPD police officers. (AP Photo)
Murtin said Ellis attempted to flee police, but was captured after a brief pursuit and did not resist.
"Surely he had to know the [police] presence was heavy and the chances for him to escape that perimeter were slim," Murtin said.
Ellis was found unarmed and was uninjured, Murtin said, adding that about 50 officers split into two search teams had been hunting for Ellis through the night using night-vision gear and infared heat-sensing equipment after another suspect, Dexter Bostic, had been arrested nearby Wednesday.
Bostic is expected to be returned to New York City Thursday and be arraigned in court in Brooklyn Friday, according to an official with the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. Bostic is on parole and therefore automatically waives extradiction.
Shortly after Ellis' 8 a.m. arrest Thursday, NYPD and Pennsylvania police officers could be seen smiling and exchanging high fives.
Amid a cluster of nearly 30 marked and unmarked police cruisers, including many with New York license plates or NYPD markings, three people were seated in the back seat of a cruiser. The man in the middle of the back seat looked like the suspect, and the car was surrounded with more than 20 uniformed and plainclothes officers who were smiling and appeared to be in a good mood.
At the scene were indications of the extent of the search, including a helicopter circling overhead, a police tracking dog and several people in National Guard or other military uniforms,
Leading up to the area of the arrest, an electronic sign on Route 80 warned, "Delays Ahead" and Pennsylvania state police cruisers were stationed every 100 yards or so along the highway. Traffic slowed to a crawl as passing vehicles watched the arrest.
Dexter Bostic is escorted from the state police barracks in Swiftwater, Pa., Thursday, wanted in the cold-blooded New York shooting of two police officers, was captured Wednesday in rural Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Jimmy May)
Detectives knew a friend had driven Bostic and Ellis to the Poconos after they allegedly shot two Brooklyn cops.
Wednesday night, Bostic's three days as a fugitive ended when he was arrested trying to hide in a thicket of shrub oaks in rural Pennsylvania, 90 miles from the street corner where authorities say he and Ellis shot Officer Russel Timoshenko, paralyzing the well-liked rookie, and wounding his partner, Officer Herman Yan.
Hot on their trail since Tuesday, one day after the shooting, a phalanx of 40 New York City Police Department detectives and supervisors, plus officers from several Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies and United States marshals, closed in on the suspects after a passing driver saw them walking along Interstate 80, near the Interstate 380 exchange, in Tannersville. The officers had followed their trail through Long Island, Connecticut, Westchester and, finally, Pennsylvania.
There was a brief chase, but police tackled Bostic, who seemed winded and was apparently getting by on little more than tuna fish, peanut butter and crackers.
News of Bostic's capture reverberated back in the city, where colleagues of the wounded officers spread the news.
| Robert J. Ellis, center, is taken into the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Swiftwater, Pa., on Thursday. Ellis is a suspect wanted in connection with the shooting of two New York Police officers in Brooklyn, NY. (AP Photo/The Pocono Record, David Kidwell) |
But reaction was far more muted at Kings County Medical Center, where the more seriously injured cop, Timoshenko, 23, lay in a hospital bed, paralyzed and near death. A priest showed up to absolve him of his sins, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly broke the news of the arrest to Timoshenko's parents.
"It was some comfort," Kelly said in a press conference, "but, of course, their son is gravely injured."
Timoshenko was allegedly gunned down by Bostic and Ellis early Monday morning when he and Yan, partners in the 71st Precinct, pulled the suspects over in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens because their license plate did not match their BMW.
Timoshenko is paralyzed, has brain swelling and cannot breathe on his own, Assistant District Attorney Anna-Siegga Nicolazzi said at a court appearance Wednesday for a third suspect. The courtroom was packed with police officers.
Suspect Lee Woods is escorted into Brooklyn Criminal Court in New York, by New York City Police Officers, for arraignment on attempted murder, assault of a police officer, weapon possession and other counts Wednesday. Two NYPD officers were wounded, one critically, when occupants of the vehicle Woods was driving opened fire on them during a traffic stop in the early morning hours of Monday, July 10. (AP Photo/Pool, Aaron Showalter)
Yan was shot in the arm and the chest, but a bulletproof vest saved his life and he fired 14 shots at the suspects, who fled, with a third suspect, Lee Woods, 29, at the wheel, police said.
Later that morning, Woods went off on his own, but Bostic and Ellis hatched a plan to get out of the state without driving through the city, Kelly said.
A friend, Kelly said, drove the duo to Port Jefferson, where the three of them took the ferry to Bridgeport. From there, Kelly said, they made their way back into New York State, buying food and water at a supermarket in Tarrytown.
By this point, police in the city had raided a number of different locations — homes of the suspects' relatives and friends, mostly — and considered the possibility the suspects were heading to North Carolina, where Bostic has family.
Instead, he, Ellis and the friend were heading into Pennsylvania, via Interstate 80, police said. The friend dropped them in a wooded area about 14 miles away from where Bostic was captured.
Police dogs were used, with animals following their scent for three-quarters of a mile along a creek bed that ended at Route 611, where the trail went cold. A few hours later, just before 6 p.m., Pennsylvania State Police got he call from the motorist. Kelly said police learned of the suspects' whereabouts Tuesday. The friend was not charged, and Kelly would not say if the man drove Bostic and Ellis willingly, or if he had been forced to.
On Tuesday afternoon, police, acting on a tip, located the driver, who revealed the suspects' whereabouts. Dozens of NYPD investigators were dispatched to the area, where they joined local police in a search.
A passing motorist alerted authorities after spotting Ellis and Bostic walking along a rural section of Interstate 80 on Wednesday, police said. Investigators followed a trail of muddy footprints and food wrappers and eventually caught up with the two suspects.
By 8 p.m. Tuesday, the first team of NYPD officers had arrived in Pennsylvania. Three homes near where the suspects were seen were searched. But it appears they spent most of their time wandering, authorities said.
Bostic was being held Wednesday night in Pennsylvania.
Woods was arrested Tuesday at the home of his girlfriend, who is Bostic's sister. Woods was arraigned Wednesday on attempted murder charges.
Police sources said Bostic stole the BMW from an Inwood, Long Island, dealership where he and Ellis have worked. The three ex-convicts headed to Brooklyn and were pulled over at Rogers and Lefferts avenues, where a video surveillance camera captured the shooting.
Copyright 2007 Newsday
Three suspects nabbed in NYPD shooting