ST. JOHNS, Ariz. (KRQE) - A SWAT commander Friday described how his team took down anescaped Arizona prison inmate and his armed fiancée in acampground standoff that ended without injuries.
After spending nearly a month on the run John McCluskey andCasslyn Welch spent Wednesday night in a jail cell in St. Johns,Ariz.
On Friday afternoon McCluskey and Welch
For now McCluskey faces charges of escape, kidnapping, armedrobbery, aggravated assault and misconduct with weapons. Welchfaces similar charges.
No charges have been filed yet in two New Mexico murders linkedto the couple and a third escaped inmate recaptured earlier inWyoming.
McCluskey and Welch, who are cousins, were
A U.S. Forest Service ranger first spotted an unattendedcampfire and went to check it out. He wrote down the New Mexicolicense plate on the silver Nissan parked at the site and later hada conversation with the man at campsite No. 5 in the GabaldónCampground.
But it wasn't until the ranger ran the license plate and foundout the car was stolen that he realized he had just talked toMcCluskey.
It took the Apache County Sheriff's Department SWAT team led byCmdr. Webb Hogle three hours to get to the remote area while otherlaw enforcement kept an eye on the area.
Then they quickly moved in first tackling McCluskey when herefused to lie on the ground. Then the dozen or so officersapprehended Welch who pulled a pistol from the small of her backbefore apparently realizing she was outgunned.
"When she threw the gun down, one of my guys picked it up,unloaded it, removed it," Hogle said during a news conference inSt. Johns attended by KRQE News 13. "One of the sergeants on scenesaid, 'Don't mess with that; could possibly be the murderweapon.'
"He (McCluskey) said, 'No. The murder weapon's over is in thetent.' So spontaneous utterances that he had committed themurder."
According to Apache County officials McCluskey said he alonekilled Linda and Gary Haas, both 61, a vacationing couple fromTecumseh, Okla., whose remains were found Aug. 4 in the burnedwreckage of their camper trailer on a ranch in northeastern NewMexico near Santa Rosa.
They also said McCluskey made other statements including sayinghe should have killed the forest ranger when he had the chance andthat had he been able to get to his tent he could have killed theentire SWAT team.
The last confirmed sighting of McCluskey and Welch was Aug. 6 inMontana, and there has been abundant speculation about where elsethey may have been.
It's also not known how long they had been in the campgroundalthough they appeared to have been getting comfortable there andhad been seen in a nearby town where they had a flat tire fixed.
The Sandoval County sheriff's sergeant hit while investigating a weather related crash remains in critical condition.
Officials say the Bernalillo County Treasurer Office is closed Friday after a suspicious substance was found in the office.
One thing that this winter weather can really do is help get you in that holiday spirit.
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