UPDATED: Fugitive siblings caught near Pueblo
PUEBLO — Three fugitive siblings wanted in a crime spree in Florida and Georgia were captured Wednesday in Colorado after leading officers on a high-speed chase and crashing their car into a barrier on a highway, authorities said.
The trio — Ryan Edward Dougherty, 21; Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26; and Lee Grace Dougherty, 29 — had been targets of a nationwide search after alleged crimes last week in which they were accused of shooting at a police car during a chase and robbing a bank with assault weapons. FBI Special Agent Steve Emmett confirmed that the three were in custody in Colorado.
No troopers were hurt during the high-speed chase on Interstate 25 on Wednesday, though the three siblings from Florida were being treated for unspecified injuries at a hospital in Walsenburg, Colo., officials said.
“Ladies and gentleman, I’m proud to say we won,” said Pasco County, Fla., Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference following their capture. “We continuously said that if these three fugitives wanted a battle with law enforcement, we would win that battle. And that’s what happened today.”
He called the siblings “very, very dangerous people” and their capture a tremendous relief.
“It’s uncommon that we would come across these three siblings who would have an arsenal and (are) not afraid to use it,” he said.
Some of Nocco’s deputies were expected to fly to Colorado on Wednesday night to interview the trio.
The Colorado State Patrol said that a citizen tipped troopers at about 9 a.m. that the suspects were believed to be in Colorado City, about 25 miles north of Walsenburg. The vehicle was spotted a half-hour later at a campground near Colorado City. The suspects fled before Pueblo County deputies arrived, but a deputy spotted the car later at a gas station near I-25.
The car took off and a 20-mile chase ensued. Troopers deployed stop sticks north of Walsenburg, and the car crashed into a barrier, officials said.
Two of the three were arrested at the scene. A third fled on foot into Walsenburg but was arrested without incident by state troopers, trooper Richard Krantz said.
Patrol Chief Col. James M. Wolfinbarger said he had been concerned that the search for the fugitives would be dangerous.
“I had a strong concern. I was worried about the safety of our troopers. To have them shooting at you and continue the pursuit, those men are brave,” he said.
The Dougherty siblings’ mother, Barbara Bell of East Palatka, Fla., spoke briefly with The Associated Press on the phone Wednesday.
“I’m sorry. I’m making no comment at this time. Bye,” said Bell, who last week had urged the trio to give up before there was bloodshed.
A hunt for the trip began last week an officer northeast of Tampa, Fla., tried to pull a car over for speeding. A five-mile chase ensued, with speeds up to 100 mph, and at least two people in the fleeing car squeezed off 20 or more gunshots. A bullet burst the patrol car’s front tire and the suspects got away, Nocco said. The officer wasn’t injured.
A few hours later, about 210 miles north along Interstate 75, three people wearing masks charged into the Certus Bank in Valdosta, Ga. One of the robbers brandished an AK-47 assault rifle while another was photographed by a security camera waving a machine pistol, the FBI said. The robbers fired shots into the ceiling, then fled with an undisclosed amount of money in a white sedan similar to the Subaru in the Florida chase.
The search shifted to Colorado after the sighting in Colorado Springs, where authorities say they believe the trio made a purchase at an outdoors store and authorities said they believed they could be headed to a campground or rural area to try to avoid capture.