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Police release information about Morales’ hiding spot
Police are releasing new information about the final days of the manhunt for escaped fugitive Alberto Morales, who had been on the loose since Feb. 11 before he was shot and killed by police shortly after midnight Saturday in Grapevine.
The incident happened southwest of Lake View Park near Grapevine Lake.
Morales had escaped police custody Feb. 11 when he stabbed one of the officers who was transporting him in a van from Miami to Las Vegas. They had stopped off at Wal-Mart in Grapevine when the incident happened.
Police from area agencies helped in the search each day until he was located.
Sgt. Robert Eberling of the Grapevine Police Department said police responded to a burglary call on Lakeridge Drive, near the park, late Friday night.
"We investigated the burglary and found that men's clothes and jewelry had been taken," Eberling said. "We thought that was suspicious and thought it might have to do with Mr. Morales."
Grapevine police then called in the U.S. Fugitive Task Force and Miami-Dade officers to assist with a ground search in the wooded area near the neighborhood and the Fort Worth Police Department to provide a helicopter. Eberling said through an infrared camera, Morales was located.
"We got Mr. Morales surrounded," Eberling said. "He didn't comply with officers when they told him to get on the ground, and he also lunged at officers. At that point, officers shot Mr. Morales."
Eberling said no police officers were injured during this search.
“We feel like he was in the woods for more than a day or so,” Eberling said. “We found an area he had made into a makeshift camp site. We found evidence of canned food, raw chicken, but where he got that, we don’t know. He also had a folding tent, a sleeping bag and miscellaneous items.”
Eberling said so far, nobody has come forward to report missing those types of items. He said the clothes and the jewelry that were stolen have been returned to the owner.
As far as whether Morales was in Grapevine the whole time, Eberling said it’s hard to say.
“I suspect that he did not go into other cities because he wasn’t familiar with the area,” Eberling said. “He was probably more concerned about staying hidden and limiting his movement.”
While Morales was on the loose, there were extra police officers placed at CISD schools during the week.
The Wal-Mart is near Eubanks Intermediate School and Dawson Middle School. CISD was notified of the situation after students arrived at school.
Thursday, Flower Mound police searched a wooded area between Bakersfield and Gerault parks in Flower Mound after receiving a tip of Morales possibly being spotted in that area.
Morales was wanted for a variety of crimes, including attempted capital murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, and escape from custody. His criminal history also includes burglary with use of deadly weapon and sexual assault with deadly weapon.
Eberling said a full report of the investigation likely won’t come anytime soon. He noted that the investigation involving a domestic shooting on Christmas Day, 2011, took 11 months to complete, and unlike this situation, there was only one agency involved.
“We have a lot of things we need to investigate,” Eberling said. “Among other things, there will be a shooting investigation as well.”