Suspected Cop Killer Surrenders

Fugitive Ralph "Bucky" Phillips, right, is escorted by U.S. Marshals towards the U.S. District Courthouse garage entrance in Buffalo, N.Y., on Friday, Sept. 8, 2006.
AP
A fugitive suspected of fatally shooting a New York state trooper and wounding two others while on the run for more than five months surrendered to police who had cornered him in a field just over the Pennsylvania border Friday night.

Ralph "Bucky" Phillips walked out with his hands up, ending the state's largest manhunt for the 44-year-old career thief who broke out of a Buffalo-area jail in April, New York State Police Investigator Gary Colon said.

The arrest capped a frantic day of searching that included troopers firing at Phillips earlier in the day as he dodged authorities in a wooded area.

Phillips appeared in U.S. District Court in Buffalo Saturday where a judge agreed to turn him over to state police to face a charge of attempted murder of a state trooper in Chemung County.

Phillips, who had threatened "suicide by cop" and once promised to "splatter pig meat all over Chautauqua County," was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

During the four-minute hearing, the exhausted and unshaven suspect answered "yes" when asked if he was Ralph Phillips and if had received a copy of the federal complaint charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, he stood with his hands folded in front of him as the judge spoke. After the appearance, U.S. Marshals placed a chain around his waist, handcuffed him and led him out of court.

For hours, police had methodically moved closer to Phillips. Just before nightfall, 25 SWAT officers and 12 dogs swept through a field where he was thought to be hiding. He gave himself up around 8 p.m., police said.

"A few of my guys had spotted him in an open field, the helicopter zeroed in on him," said Lenny DePaul, commanding officer of the U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force.

He did not know what condition Phillips was in. In a photo taken as he was driven away from the field, Phillips looked gaunt, dirty and exhausted.

"He could run but he couldn't hide," said New York State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett. "The bottom line is the pressure was so great on him. The game was up and he knew it."

While on the run, police believe Phillips had stolen at least 15 cars and more than 40 guns; living off the land, ex-girlfriends and at least one boyhood buddy who's since been arrested, reported CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts.

A U.S. Marshals Service task force joined the investigation Wednesday and had about 30 investigators on the ground, commanding officer Lenny DePaul said.

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric asked DePaul how Phillips could elude such an enormous manhunt.

"He's got little bit of a history — with his background being the woodsman that he is. He grew up in the area, he's got a lot of experience doing what he's doing," DePaul said of Phillips.

Friday's search started shortly before 2 a.m. in Pennsylvania when a police officer tried to pull over a stolen car. After a short chase, the car crashed and the driver, identified by police as Phillips, fled into the woods.

A half-hour later, Phillips stole a second car and drove back into New York, where troopers located him and launched a second chase, authorities said.

Phillips jumped out of the moving car and ducked into woods, zigzagging back and forth between New York and Pennsylvania, authorities said. Police dogs tracked his scent for several hours until he was spotted by two troopers, Bennett said.

As troopers approached, Phillips wheeled around with a pistol in his hand but did not fire, police said. One of the troopers fired an undisclosed number of shots as Phillips disappeared into the thick woods.

Phillips became the subject of a huge search after allegedly shooting a state trooper near Elmira June 10. The trooper survived.

Then, authorities said, he ambushed and shot two New York state troopers on Aug. 31 as they staked out the home of Phillips' former girlfriend. One trooper died on Sunday; the other was in critical condition.