Suspect in Mass. Store Shooting Captured in New York
PRINCETOWN, N.Y. (AP) -- For two days, a man wanted in a double shooting at a Massachusetts home improvement store led police on a cat-and-mouse chase across three states, managing to elude capture each time his truck was spotted.
But that pursuit ended Wednesday when a toll collector on the New York Thruway recognized Mark Anthony LeBreton and called police, who arrested him Wednesday morning after a brief chase in which LeBreton tossed a handgun and assault rifle from his truck.
The 38-year-old contractor from Auburn, Mass., allegedly entered a Lowe's Home Improvement store in Worcester, Mass., on Monday and opened fire on neighbor and business associate Steve Collins, who remained hospitalized in critical condition on Wednesday.
James Walling, a Lowe's employee from Barre, Mass., who apparently did not know LeBreton, was hit in the shoulder. His injuries were not life-threatening.
LeBreton was arrested around 7:15 a.m. on Interstate 88. The pursuit ended, coincidentally, in the town of Worcester, N.Y., about 50 miles southwest of Albany.
A Schoharie County Sheriff's Department dispatcher said a Thruway tollbooth operator outside Schenectady spotted LeBreton as he exited Interstate 90 shortly before 7 a.m. The pursuit began in Cobleskill and ended about 15 miles away in Worcester.
State Police Maj. Gerald Meyer said LeBreton was traveling about 70 miles per hour and threw a .40-caliber Glock handgun, an AK-47 assault rifle and a gym bag from the car window.
Police said the handgun was the same caliber as the one used in the Lowe's shooting.
"He basically surrendered to us when he pulled over to the side," Meyer said. "He showed his hands to the troopers."
Police were searching LeBreton's truck Wednesday afternoon.
LeBreton was being held by state police in New York as a fugitive from justice. Meyer said police are considering whether to charge him with criminal weapons possession.
LeBreton was expected to appear in Schoharie County Court, about 30 miles south of Albany, later Wednesday.
Worcester, Mass., police Sgt. Gary Quitadamo said LeBreton could be arraigned in Massachusetts as soon as Thursday on two counts of armed assault with intent to murder and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
LeBreton's father, Leo LeBreton, said from his home in Laurens, S.C., that he was relieved his son had been caught.
"My prayer now is the other person survives his injuries," he told The Associated Press. "Half the nightmare is over. That's the next part.SURE
Leo LeBreton, who had issued a public plea for his son to call him, said he had not heard from him since the shootings. "This was not the Mark I know," he said. "He was gentle. He wasn't mean or abusive. I don't know what happened. I don't know. That's where the shock comes in."
Investigators followed LeBreton's trail from a sighting at a trailhead high in the White Mountains of New Hampshire to a phone call made from a pay phone at a highway rest area south of Albany.
Early Tuesday morning, LeBreton's 2003 Chevrolet Silverado pickup with "LeBreton & Sons" written on the doors was spotted in the White Mountain National Forest in Lincoln, N.H., before it slipped out of sight.
Then, police in Schenectady said they'd been contacted around 4 p.m. Tuesday by police in Massachusetts, who had traced a call made by LeBreton from a gas station pay phone in the city just west of Albany.
Schenectady police Lt. Pete Frisoni said witnesses reported seeing someone matching LeBreton's description and a vehicle matching the description of his pickup truck in the area. But the person had left by the time police arrived.
A half-hour later, Worcester police traced another call from LeBreton to a Thruway rest area in New Baltimore, about 25 miles southeast of Schenectady.
LeBreton had a professional relationship with Collins, a plumber who does not work at Lowe's but is contracted to install equipment for the store's customers.
The two both lived in a quiet neighborhood in Auburn, just south of Worcester, Mass.
"Our investigation indicates a business association did exist between the seriously injured victim and the suspect," Quitadamo said. "We have not been able to establish a specific motive or set of events that led to the shooting."
LeBreton's brother, an Oxford police officer, had alerted Auburn police just before the shooting that his brother was armed and suicidal.