After eight days of eluding a nationwide manhunt, three Pasco County siblings accused of shooting at a police officer and robbing a bank were captured Wednesday after a 100 mph chase and gunfight on a south Colorado desert, authorities said.
The Colorado State Patrol said it caught the three fugitive Dougherty siblings after a pursuit and crash about 50 miles north of the New Mexico state line and 1,700 miles from the siblings’ home in Lachoochee.
The trio was captured near Walsenburg, about 90 miles south of Colorado Springs.
FBI Special Agent Steve Emmett confirmed that the two men and a woman arrested are 21-year-old Ryan Edward Dougherty, 26-year-old Dylan Dougherty Stanley and 29-year-old Lee-Grace Dougherty.
The state patrol announced the capture on its Twitter feed.
"Short pursuit with 3 sibling fugitive from Florida ends in crash," the feed said. Two of the siblings were captured immediately, one ran.
The pursuit spilled from Interstate 25 to the back door of George’s Drive Inn restaurant, less than a mile away.
Employees of the diner heard gunshots and saw one younger man acting strangely as he got close to the restaurant.
"He was trying to blend in, at first running and then walking," said a waitress who identified herself only as April. "We knew that he was hiding from the cops when we saw him hiding in the bushes.
"He didn’t look injured, because he was running," she added. "We didn’t see any weapon in his hand, unless he had it in his pants or something. He was just trying to get the heck out of Dodge."
Restaurant workers called authorities and told them where the man was hiding.
"He passed right between our back door and our shed," she said of the fugitive. "We’re a small town. It was scary – especially after we heard the gunshots."
Lee-Grace Dougherty ran through a field carrying an automatic pistol. She turned around and pointed the gun at a Walsenburg police officer. The officer shot her in the leg, investigators said. She was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
At the scene where the Dougherty siblings were captured investigators found a MAC-11 machine pistol, two AK-47 assault rifles and a handgun outside the Subaru Impreza that the trio drove.
Pasco County sheriff’s detectives will travel to Colorado to question the Doughertys. The extradition process will begin as soon as possible, said Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco.
Zephyrhills Police Chief David Shears said he’s glad the ordeal is over.
"We’re happy about the outcome," Shears said, "that no law enforcement officers or civilians were hurt."
Brendon Bookman, the fiancé of Lee-Grace Dougherty, said he’s relieved the manhunt has ended.
"Thank God it is over," Bookman said. "I am pleasantly surprised they are alive.
"They were daredevils and thrill-seekers," Bookman said of the trio police dubbed the "Dougherty Gang." "I hope it was fun while it lasted because they are looking at some pretty boring years coming up."
Bookman said plans for marrying Lee-Grace Dougherty "are probably over."
"By the time she is out of jail, I will be in a diaper," he said.
Bookman said he will visit his fiancée, if she will allow it, and bring her favorite doll.
The state patrol received a tip shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday that the three were spotted near Colorado City. Their 2006 Subaru was seen at a campground, but they were gone by the time Pueblo County sheriff’s deputies arrived.
A deputy spotted the car at a nearby gas station in Colorado City, and a state trooper tried to pull it over. The driver refused to stop and a pursuit began, with shots from an AK-47 assault rifle being fired at troopers from the suspects’ vehicle, officials said.
The getaway vehicle crashed after troopers dropped stop sticks in the southbound lanes of Interstate 25 near Walsenburg.
Mike Lave was working in his gift shop on Main Street in Walsenburg, a town of about 4,000, when a series of police cars went zipping by.
"We just saw them go by the window," said Lave. "We didn’t know what was going on."
The siblings are suspected of firing at least 20 shots on Aug. 2 at a Zephyrhills officer who tried to pull them over for speeding.
The officer, who was not injured, did not return fire but gave chase. The Subaru reached speeds of 103 mph before the pursuit ended at State Road 54 and Morris Bridge Road when a bullet struck the patrol car's front left tire.
Investigators linked the siblings to the case after they found Ryan Dougherty's ankle monitor near the scene of the car chase. He had just been issued the monitor after being convicted of sending sexually explicit text messages to an 11-year-old girl.
Hours later, three people wearing masks robbed a bank in Valdosta, Ga., about 210 miles north of Pasco County. One robber brandished an AK-47 assault rifle while another was photographed by a security camera waving some type of machine gun, said the FBI, which named the Doughertys as suspects.
Nocco said all three had been living together in Lachoochee, and each had legal issues. Lee-Grace Dougherty has charges pending against her in a hit-and-run and had previously been charged with battery, Nocco said, and Dylan Dougherty Stanley had been charged with marijuana possession.
Nocco said the Subaru belongs to Ryan Dougherty's girlfriend, who helped authorities identify the car.