FORT WORTH (CBS 11 News) - A four-day manhunt for a violent escaped prisoner ended with the convicted serial rapist being shot and killed.
Alberto Morales, who escaped in Grapevine while being transported from Miami to Nevada, was found by law enforcement shortly after midnight Saturday.
Police say they received a tip from a homeowner near Grapevine Lake that their home had been broken into. Fort Worth Police launched an aerial search of the area and were able to locate Morales in a densely wooded area, leading officers on the ground to his position.
According to Sgt. Robert Eberling with the Grapevine Police Department, a Grapevine Police officer and two officers with the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force were able to surround Morales in a small opening in the woods. Eberling says that Morales, who was very skilled at making makeshift edged weapons inside prison, was carrying sticks in hands, which likely threatened officers.
“Obviously, he was able to almost kill an officer with some eyeglasses, so he was certainly skilled with using pointed objects or edged weapons,” said Eberling.
Officials say he was shot while officers attempted to apprehend him. No officers were hurt.
“Once they had him in sight, he refused to obey their verbal commands to surrender, obscuring his hands from view,” said Officer Sam Shemwell, Crime Prevention Officer with Grapevine Police. “At that point, he made a movement, or what officers characterized as he lunged towards them to within a matter of feet. At that point they had no choice but to fire upon him.”
Sam Shemwell on KRLD
Officials are surprised that Morales, who was found roughly four miles from the Walmart where he escaped, was able to evade them for nearly five days.
“We are somewhat surprised that someone was able to — especially with the whether and terrain up there — that someone was able to remain hidden that long,” said Eberling. “I’m sure it was a challenge to be in the weather and the inclement conditions that we’ve had in the past few days.”
Morales had been on the run since late Monday night when he escaped from a Walmart parking lot where two Miami-Dade police detectives were waiting for a third officer who was to assist with Morales’ transport to Nevada.
Police say Morales sharpened his eyeglasses into a weapon and waited for one of the detectives to go into the store before stabbing the other, Jaime Pardinas, repeatedly. Pardinas was able to call 911 to alert local law enforcement of Morales’ escape, which triggered an intense manhunt that locked down schools and set residents on edge for several days.
Pardinas is expected to make a full recovery. On Friday, his daughter made a plea for the public to help police locate Morales.
Miami-Dade Police warned Morales was a violent, experienced criminal who would do anything to stay out of prison. The department relocated as many as ten officers to North Texas to assist with the search. However, questions remained about whether proper procedures were followed during Morales’ transport and whether he planned his escape.
Per policy, the Grapevine officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
“It’s been a long, arduous week for everybody that’s been involved in this investigation and this manhunt,” said Eberling. “For the most part, officers are just relieved that we no longer have a threat out there – more so towards the citizens, but also towards them.”
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