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 | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

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 swiftly moved into 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 daylight robbery.

The house where the Moores were arrested is a brick rowhouse with broken windows, and boarded-up houses stand on either side. The trash-strewn one-way street was deserted last night, and a uniformed officer was stationed at the door of the house. Police planned to search the house overnight for evidence.

The news of the arrest spread quickly throughout the 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 were not found, 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.

"Baltimore City [police] were crucial in this investigation. We have been working hand in hand with them to try to gain information," said county police spokeswoman Cpl. Vicki Warehime. "They were crucial in supplying us with this information that led us to Philadelphia."

Although police would not disclose whom the Moores were staying with, Warehime said that person could face charges of harboring a fugitive.

"Our investigation continues," she said.

County homicide Detectives Phillip Marll and James Tincher, the lead investigators in the case, arrived in Philadelphia after 7 p.m. to interview the suspects.

Linda Vizi, an FBI agent, said extradition proceedings were pending.

A flurry of messages on the Fraternal Order of Police Web site were exchanged within minutes of the arrest.

One officer wrote, "02/19/00 Dundalk Dispatch advised that Both of the MOORE Brothers are under arrest in Philadelphia!!!!!"

"HIP, HIP, HOORAY!!!" was the reply. "Three cheers for the arresting team and praise be to God."

But Prothero's older brother, Rick, said from his Harford County home yesterday, "There is some relief that they were apprehended, but I don't think there is any sense of joy. We are kind of like everyone else just seeing what the next step is."

The state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is investigating how state probation and parole agents handled the four suspects, who had lengthy criminal histories with charges ranging from handgun violations to attempted first-degree murder.

The investigation came after disclosures that two of the men, Donald White and Richard Moore, had outstanding warrants for other crimes at the time of the shooting. Donald White was being sought for failing to appear in court on attempted-murder charges. Richard Moore had skipped out on home detention after he was released from prison on a drug conviction.

His brother, Wesley Moore, was supposed to be on four years' probation after several drug convictions in 1994, but he did not meet with a probation officer for nearly two years.

Sun staff writers Tim Craig and Dennis O'Brien and contributor Mark Fazlola provided information for this article.

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