Accused Trooper Shooter No Folk Hero

This undated photo released by New York State Police shows Ralph "Bucky" Phillips, a prison escapee wanted in the shooting of a state trooper. Police say Phillips broke out of an Erie County prison in April 2006, and allegedly shot a trooper June 10 near Elmira.
AP Photo/New York State Police
For months, authorities in western New York scoured hunting campsites, stopped traffic and questioned acquaintances in a search for an escaped inmate with the skills of a seasoned outdoorsman.

On Friday, the search intensified after authorities said two participating troopers were ambushed by a sniper hiding in the woods. Seventy-five additional troopers were called up to help as the pair lingered in critical condition.

The five-month manhunt has turned Ralph "Bucky" Phillips into somewhat of a local amusement here, sometimes frustrating police. A restaurant offered a "Bucky Burger" and some bars in the area sold T-shirts with sayings such as "Got Bucky?"

"It shows people he's not the big hero they made him out to be," Richard Albach of Brocton tells The Buffalo News. "He's strictly a criminal."

James Anderson, a Charlotte resident, was even blunter: "He's gonna die. Rest assured, someone is going to shoot him when he comes out of the woods," he told the newspaper.

Police believe Phillips, who escaped from jail in April and may be traveling between Pennsylvania and western New York, is the gunman, State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett said. Since his escape, Phillips has been suspected in the wounding of another state trooper, numerous burglaries and the theft of a gun shop.