Shootout ends hunt for Missouri couple suspected in crime spree

MILTON, Fla. -- The search for a Missouri couple suspected in a series of robberies and abductions across the South ended in a shootout in the Florida Panhandle early Friday that left the man dead and the woman wounded, authorities said.

See Full Article

Blake Fitzgerald died and Brittany Nicole Harper was taken to a local hospital, according to a statement from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

Few other details were immediately released, but local news outlets report that the shots were fired after a chase. In online video posted by Pensacola, Florida, station WEAR-TV, a volley of gunshots can be heard amid flashing police lights.

Dozens of police and sheriff's deputies blocked a rural road leading to the site where the couple was found Friday morning.

Santa Rosa County sheriff's Sgt. Rich Aloy said his agency learned around 12:30 a.m. that the suspects were heading into Santa Rosa County, so their officers joined the search, which ended on a road. Aloy said that because a shooting took place, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was taking over the investigation. Aloy provided no other details of the chase and shooting.

Aloy also said they are fortunate more people were not hurt. It would have been worse if it happened earlier in the day because there would have a lot of traffic, he said.

Authorities have linked Fitzgerald and Harper to a series of crimes in Alabama and Georgia, saying the offences fit a similar pattern: People are robbed, kidnapped and let go unharmed, usually after a vehicle is stolen.

Before that, police in Joplin, Missouri, had wanted to interview the two about a Jan. 22 break-in there in which guns were stolen from a home. The couple is also suspected in two Florida robberies in Walnut Hill and Destin on Wednesday, U.S. Marshals spokesman Martin Keely said.

Calling them a "modern-day Bonnie and Clyde," the U.S. Marshals announced Thursday that they were offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to their arrest.

Fitzgerald and Harper have been charged with robbing and abducting a hotel clerk in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and taking his car to the Birmingham area. The clerk was let go in the upscale suburb of Vestavia Hills, where a woman was briefly abducted by two people who stole her family's Ford Edge SUV.

On Monday night, a gunman held up a young clerk at a Murphy Express station along Interstate 75 in south Georgia, taking money from the safe and cigarettes before forcing the clerk into an SUV where his female accomplice waited, authorities said. The couple drove about 15 miles before releasing the clerk unharmed, Perry police Lt. Ken Ezell said.

The hotel clerk who was abducted in Alabama, Kyle Dease, told Al.com that he spoke with his captors during the nearly two hours he was held on the drive from Tuscaloosa to metro Birmingham. Dease said they told him they hoped to make it to Florida to get married and start a new life together.

The man also told Dease he did not plan on going back to prison.

Missouri records show that in 2013, Fitzgerald and an accomplice were charged with burglarizing a Joplin woman at knifepoint in her home and making off with her purse, jewelry, electronics and a car. Fitzgerald entered an Alford plea -- not admitting guilt but acknowledging the prosecutors had sufficient evidence for a conviction -- and was sentenced in 2014 to a suspended seven-year prison term.

Fitzgerald also was sentenced in southwestern Missouri's Jasper County to a simultaneous 120-day term in a drunken-driving case. Last July, Fitzgerald pleaded guilty in a Missouri assault case and was sentenced to a suspended five-year prison term.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Woman, 50 facing charges in elder abuse investigation

    Canada News CTV News
    WARWICK TOWNSHIP, Ont. -- Provincial police say a 50-year-old woman is charged in an elder abuse investigation. They say officers went to a Warwick Township, Ont., home on Thursday to assist health-care workers check on the well-being of a resident. Source
  • B.C. responds to lawsuit over fees to welfare recipients for methadone treatment

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- The British Columbia government says it has done nothing wrong by redirecting money from the income-assistance cheques of recovering heroin addicts to pay private methadone-dispensing clinics for treatment. In documents filed in B.C. Source
  • Former Afghan warlord Hekmatyar says he wants peace

    World News CTV News
    KABUL -- A former Afghan warlord who battled U.S. forces after the 2001 invasion and nursed bitter rivalries with other militant factions before signing a peace deal with the Afghan government appeared in public for the first time in more than 20 years on Saturday and called for peace. Source
  • Austria calls for new EU relationship with Turkey

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern says Turkey should not be allowed to join the European Union, with membership talks between the EU and Ankara at a standstill. Kern told reporters in Brussels Saturday that "we have to bring our relations to Turkey into new order. Source
  • Berlusconi treated with stitches after fall

    World News CTV News
    MILAN -- Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi has been treated by a doctor after tripping on a carpet and hitting his head in a fall in his villa in Portofino on the Ligurian coast. The news agency ANSA reported Saturday that the 80-year-old, three-time former premier returned to Milan for treatment at the Madonnina clinic, where he received three stitches. Source
  • Thai family mourns girl killed in video streamed on Facebook

    World News CTV News
    Chiranut Trairat, (second from left) mother of an 11-month-old baby girl, stands next to her daughter's portrait before her funeral in Phuket, Thailand, Saturday, April 29, 2017. Her distraught husband hanged their daughter on social media website Facebook Live and then killed himself, police said. Source
  • Moscow demonstrators want to tell Putin: Don't run again

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- Several hundred demonstrators are gathered in a Moscow park, trying to move to the nearby presidential administration building to present letters calling on President Vladimir Putin not to run for a fourth term in office in 2018. Source
  • EU leaders say they stand united ahead of Brexit talks

    World News CTV News
    BRUSSELS -- European Union leaders are set to acknowledge on Saturday that Northern Ireland could join the bloc in the future if its people vote to unite with EU member state Ireland, officials said Friday. Source
  • Trump to spend Day 100 in office talking tough on trade

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump is marking his 100th day in office by talking tough on trade. Trump's first 100 days in office: Day-by-day highlights The White House says the president will sign an executive order Saturday that will direct his Commerce Department and the U.S. Source
  • EU leaders meet to set terms for Brexit negotiations

    World News CBC News
    European Union leaders will endorse a stiff set of divorce terms for Britain at a summit on Saturday, rejoicing in a rare show of unity in adversity, but well aware that may start to fray once negotiations begin. Source