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 Moores were arrested in a brick rowhouse with broken windows, and boarded-up houses stand on either side along the trash-strewn, one-way street. Police searched the house late last night for evidence.

Outside the house last night, David Ebron, who owns the rowhouse, started shaking his head as police from Baltimore and Philadelphia drove away after an hour-long search.

Detectives from Baltimore County and the Philadelphia police department went through the house and came away with two green plastic bags. 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."

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 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."

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!!!!!"

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