ST. JOHNS, Ariz. — A forest ranger who alertly spotted a pair of fugitives at a remote Arizona campsite was hailed Friday as “a true hero” after his tip allowed a heavily armed law enforcement contingent to capture the couple.
The efforts by the ranger came at great risk. Fugitive John McCluskey had a gun and said he wished he would have shot the forest ranger and arresting officers when he had the chance, authorities said.
“He is a true hero,” Apache County Sheriff Joseph Dedman said of the ranger. “He made contact. He was out there doing his job when he saw these two fugitives.”
McCluskey and Casslyn Welch were captured after a three-week manhunt that made them two of the most wanted fugitives in America and drew hundreds of false sightings.
It’s not clear where the fugitives traveled while on the run in a beat-up Nissan. They are suspected in several crimes, including the killing of a couple in New Mexico.
McCluskey and Welch are scheduled to appear in court later Friday.
McCluskey fled July 30 with two other inmates from a privately run state prison in northwest Arizona and evaded authorities in at least six states before being caught Thursday evening just 300 miles east of the prison.