Men Shoot Trooper, Escape During Standoff With Dozens of Officers
ALREAD, Ark. (AP) -- Two men wanted for questioning in a couple's disappearance shot and wounded a state trooper Monday before escaping from a Ozark Mountain hut that police had surrounded.
"I feel like they're still close but they can hide pretty good in the woods," state police Sgt. Pete Westerman said. He did not know how the men escaped from the 100-square-foot hut without dozens of officers noticing.
Between 10-15 officers had gone to the hut Monday morning to serve three warrants and engaged in a brief gun battle at dawn. After the gun fight, the troopers were joined by agents from the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"We had our fingers crossed that we had them contained," Westerman said. "Somehow or another, they got out right after the shooting probably."
Police using an armored vehicle approached the hut about 10 hours after first attempting to serve their warrants. When they reached it, they discovered that the men were not inside.
Officers were searching a 200-acre area surrounding the property and feared the men would find places to hide in nearby Rattlesnake Hollow or make their way to Archey Creek, which leads away from the area.
"Somehow, they slipped through our perimeter," said Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley. "When you're exchanging gunfire it gets a little hectic."
Westerman said no weapons were found in the hut, in nearby sheds or in a school bus parked on the property. Officers believed the men were armed and dangerous.
Police had been watching the property of the two men, Mark Holsombach, 49, and William J. Frazier, 28, and wanted to speak to them about the recent disappearance of Theodore R. Throneberry, 46, and his wife Ann Ryberg Throneberry, 45.
Throneberry was last seen in February when he left a pipefitting job in Illinois and headed his home near Alread. His wife has been missing from their home since March 1. Police suspect foul play in their disappearance.
About four dozen officers were searching for the escaped men Monday afternoon.
"We really need to talk to these guys," Westerman said. "We need to keep someone else from getting hurt."
Police said Holsombach and Frazier had been seen earlier standing in the Throneberry's front yard, near their home along a dirt road, and were the last two people seen with the woman before she disappeared.
State police went to the house early Monday to serve a set of warrants -- one a bench warrant for Holsombach for possession of firearms, a Florida arrest warrant that included a theft charge against Frazier, and a search warrant for the hut.
New warrants were issued Monday, alleging attempted capital murder because of the shootout.
During the gun battle, Trooper Charlie Edmonson was shot in the left arm by rifle fire, Westerman said. The bullet ricocheted off Edmonson's bullet-proof vest and struck his arm. He also chipped a tooth and had to see a dentist. Edmonson was treated and released from a Little Rock hospital.
Westerman said police believe the men have many weapons, but weren't sure of how many or what kind. He also said there's no way to know how many supplies the two have.
Authorities said Holsombach has 12 felony convictions scattered across the country. When asked what type of convictions Holsombach had, Westerman said, "You name it. He's nearly been in trouble since Day One."
In nearby Alread School District, officials let parents pick up their children and about half of the district's 85 students went home early. If the men weren't found by Tuesday morning, the district would call off classes for the day.
Alread resident James McGaha said Holsombach and Frazier had lived in the community about three or four years. Police said the pair use several different names.
"Nobody knew them," McGaha said. "We just know they have no water and no electricity."
Carmalee Pack, 37, of Alread and her friend Savanah Scarberry, 19, also of Alread, said the home was just about 100 square feet and was made of wood that the men had gathered.
"I couldn't believe someone would live in a house like that," Scarberry said.
Pack said she was friends with Mrs. Throneberry and that the two would visit while their husbands were away on jobs. Pack described the couple as nice people who didn't bother anyone.
"I wasn't spooked until now," Pack said after finding out that the men were missing. "Now I think this is spooky."
Alread is a tiny community 20 miles west of Clinton and about 65 miles north of Little Rock.