2 wanted in officer's killing are captured in Philadelphia

After manhunt, tip to Baltimore police leads to brothers' arrests

February 20, 2000|By Dan Thanh Dang and Dennis O'Brien | Dan Thanh Dang and Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- After a two-week manhunt, two Baltimore men wanted in the fatal shooting of an off-duty police officer were arrested yesterday afternoon at the home of a relative in a crime-ridden neighborhood of North Philadelphia.

Richard Antonio Moore, 29, and his brother, Wesley John Moore, 24, were arrested about 3: 30 p.m. after a task force of two dozen federal agents, Baltimore County and Philadelphia police raided a three-story rowhouse in the 2200 block of N. 19th St. The Moores immediately dropped to the ground and surrendered, police said.

Both men, who were being held at Philadelphia police headquarters last night, have been charged with first-degree murder and are to be arraigned today.

Baltimore County Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero was killed Feb. 7 when he chased four suspects who fled a Pikesville jewelry store after a robbery.

The Moores were arrested in a brick rowhouse with broken windows. Houses with boarded-up windows stand on either side along the trash-strewn one-way street.

Outside the house late last night, David Ebron, who owns the rowhouse, started shaking his head as police from Baltimore County and Philadelphia drove away after an hourlong search, taking two green plastic bags with them.

Ebron, a 66-year-old retired construction worker, said the Moore brothers had been staying with him since a week ago Thursday. He said they showed up at his door and told him they had plans to go to Atlantic City and the Poconos and never mentioned they were in trouble with the law.

"I said sure you can stay with," he said. "Family is always welcome." Ebron is the Moore brothers' great-uncle.

The two brothers stayed in a first-floor middle bedroom in separate bunk beds.

He said that he learned they were being sought by police in a letter he received Friday from a niece and that he prayed all night for guidance. "I prayed -- I prayed very, very hard," Ebron said. "I was going to ask them about it; I wanted to talk to them together about it."

He said he planned to discuss the matter with his nephews in the early afternoon, but they were not home at the time.

A short time later, after Wesley and Richard had returned, Ebron said, a team of heavily armed officers banged on his door about 3: 30 p.m. and demanded that he put his hands in the air.

When police entered, Wesley was in the front hallway and Richard was near the front stairs, and they both "laid down and surrendered and did what they were told," Ebron said.

Neighbors said last night that the raid involved dozens of police officers and FBI agents armed with shotguns, rifles and spotlights.

"There was cops everywhere," said Michael Goodman, who lives next door.

News of the arrest spread quickly throughout Baltimore County as overjoyed police officers and political leaders praised the work of Baltimore police, who received a tip that the brothers were staying with a relative in Philadelphia and passed it on.

"I'm just very relieved," said County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who was visiting family in Ocean City when he received a call from police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan with the news. "I'm sure the family, friends and fellow police officers are also all relieved that these two individuals have been taken into custody."

"This whole situation has been difficult for everyone," Ruppersberger said as he was returning home last night for a telethon to raise money for Prothero's wife and five young children.

Two other men were arrested in Baltimore within days of the shooting.

Donald Antonio White Jr., 29, and Troy White, 23, both of Baltimore, are being held at the county Detention Center on first-degree murder charges without bail. The Whites are not related.

But the Moores remained free, despite dozens of tips to city police and county police headquarters, the 911 center, precincts and the homicide unit.

They also did not turn up despite a passionate public plea from Mary Moore, the suspects' mother, for her sons to turn themselves in the week of the shooting. The Moore family declined to comment last night.

But police said the tip from an informant came as county and city police were crisscrossing the Baltimore area for a breakthrough in the case.

At Circle Terrace Apartments in Lansdowne, where Richard Moore had lived, police hung "wanted" posters at the rental office asking for help in their search.

County police tactical officers, acting on a tip Tuesday, combed a North Point neighborhood looking for the Moores.

Neighbors at an Essex community where Wesley Moore once lived said a police helicopter with searchlights scanned the community Wednesday night.

Yesterday afternoon, about two hours before the arrest in Philadelphia, county homicide detectives were back in North Point interviewing residents about the Moores' whereabouts.

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