The three bystanders who chased and helped capture a member of the fugitive Dougherty Gang after Wednesday's high-speed police chase ended in a crash had no idea who they were helping to apprehend, they said on "Good Morning America" today.
"We heard the shots, we see all of the officers coming down the on-ramp with the guns drawn and the M-16s out, surrounding this car that's up on the guardrail, and we're like, 'Man, what's happening?' You don't hear that every day," said Dave Dallaguardia, one of the three highway workers who helped catch the runaway Dougherty.
It's unclear which brother they captured.
Lee Dougherty, who is a 29-year-old stripper, and heavily armed brother Ryan, 21, and half-brother Dylan Dougherty Stanley, 26, had become the focus of a manhunt that stretched from Florida to Colorado in the past week.
After being spotted Tuesday in Colorado buying camping equipment, vigilant citizens and officers on high alert managed to locate the vehicle and engage in a car chase on I-25.
The 20-mile chase exceeded 100 mph as one of the Doughertys allegedly leaned out of the car to shoot at the police. The pursuit culminated in the Doughertys' car flipping over and landing on top of a guard rail.
Lee Dougherty, the oldest of the trio, took off through a field and was chased by an officer until she turned on him with an automatic pistol and tried to shoot him. Before she could fire, the officer shot her in the leg, ending the pursuit. She was not seriously injured.
One of the brothers was captured immediately, but a second ran across the highway and toward an area of restaurants and shops, which is when the civilians took matters into their own hands.
"It was probably a couple of minutes later, just across the parking lot from us, we see the other gentleman making his way through the brush, kind of running toward us," Dallaguardia said. "I told Shane [Zibinski], 'This guy is on the run. This has to be one of the guys they're looking for.'"
The men told ABC News that although they could tell the man was trying to escape police, they had no idea he was a member of the famous Dougherty Gang wanted by the FBI in three states.
During their week on the lam, the trio allegedly fired at a Florida cop and robbed a Georgia bank. They also cleaned out their home arsenal of automatic weapons and sent a text message to their mother with the ominous message, "There's a time for all of us to die."
The men saw the fugitive take off in a "mad dash" across the highway. Dallaguardia told co-worker Zibinski to call the police and let them know what was going on.
"I'm on the phone with dispatch and they're telling me, 'don't engage, don't engage,'" Zibinski said. "I thought, well, we got to keep an eye on this guy or we're in trouble."
Even though the police warned the men not to engage with the dangerous individual, they realized there was window of opportunity that was quickly closing in terms of catching the man.
"I could tell all the police were concentrating on the car," Dallaguardia said. "Now there's a dozen police drawing weapons on the car and this guy is already half a mile away and they have no idea where he's at. I said, 'We got to keep an eye on him.'"
Dallaguardia even tried to reason with the runaway when he came close to him.
"When he came through the parking lot, I told him, 'You know, you're not going to get away, just stay here. It ain't worth it,'" Dallaguardia said.
Instead, the suspect pantomimed that he had a gun, which didn't stop the men from capturing him for police.
After Dallaguardia realized he had played a key role in capturing a nationally wanted criminal, he still had one difficult task ahead of him: calling his wife.
"The first thing she did was shoot my butt for engaging him," he said, laughing.
Dallaguardia said everyone has been asking him why he did it, and, for him, the reasoning is simple.
"You know, I was born -- and these guys, too -- in a small town, in blue-collar America, and if you need to lend a hand, you lend a hand," he said. "You help people out."