The “Texas Seven” is down to the Texas Two. But authorities aren’t breathing any easier today as they scour the area around the men’s hideout for weapons and clues.
"This story is by no means over," said police investigator Mark Mershon. "It's important that the public know that these two remaining subjects are armed and extremely dangerous. Don't approach them. Just provide us with the information we need."
On Monday afternoon, four of the fugitives — suspected ringleader George Rivas, Michael Rodriguez, Randy Halprin and Joseph Garcia — were captured without gunfire in a quiet mountaintop trailer park community in Colorado. A fifth, Larry Harper, killed himself in the trailer where officials believe the escapees had been hiding out for at least three weeks, police said.
As the hunt continued for the remaining two fugitives, details emerged from witnesses and officials of how the men spent their time during the past three weeks.
The men posed as a traveling Christian group, reading the Bible and playing religious music. Rivas dyed his hair pale blond and another dyed his orange.
One fugitive asked a teenage neighbor if he could get him some pot, another attended Bible study, and some made a trip into Colorado Springs Friday night for a little drinking and dancing, which sparked a flurry of calls to police from bar patrons. One bar caught the group on surveillance tape and checked the men's identification.
Dave Hansen, 41, a carpenter and resident of the trailer park, said he went to Bible study with Larry Harper, 37, the fugitive who committed suicide. Harper was in prison for aggravated sexual assault.
"He seemed like a pretty nice guy," Hansen told the Associated Press. "He told us he had turned himself over to God. You'd have no clue this guy was involved in the mess he was in."
Hansen has his own opinion on why Harper was at the Bible study group.
"I think he probably felt so guilty about what he did. He knew the end was coming ... He killed himself and now he's going to hell."
Mark Murray, 18, another resident of the park, said one of the seven — he didn't know which one — appeared excited when he asked Murray whether he smoked pot.
"He said, 'I haven't had that in a long time.'"
Authorities Hope for More Tips
Authorities say the four men captured are providing "limited cooperation" on the details of their prison escape and possible whereabouts of the two remaining fugitives. But investigators say they are relying mainly on information from residents of the trailer park and outside tips.
Police have issued an all-points bulletin for Donald Newbury and Patrick Murphy in Colorado, western Kansas, northern Oklahoma and New Mexico. The duo may be traveling in a three-tone brown 1980 Ford Econoline van with paper license plates, heavy-duty tires and white blinds or curtains in the windows, according to police.
Authorities warn the two remaining fugitives are probably more desperate and, as a result, more dangerous without their suspected ringleader.
The two had left the group at some point Sunday on a mission to get more money, police said. Authorities believe they were initially heading toward Denver and may go to Mexico.
Tip Leads to Capture
Monday's dramatic events began to unfold after a man at the trailer park saw an episode of the popular true-crime show America's Most Wanted, which has televised stories on the Texas Seven since their Dec. 13 escape. A U.S. Marshal told ABCNEWS that law enforcement officials received a phone call from the man late Sunday night. By about midnight, the Marshal said, investigators had the mobile home under surveillance. Authorities say they wanted to wait for the fugitives to leave the busy mountaintop trailer park before making a move.
At 11 a.m local time, a gray Jeep Cherokee left the mobile home. Police followed, and arrested three of the men as they pulled up at a convenience store along a nearby trailer park strip, apparently catching the men off guard. Police have found 37 stolen weapons inside the mobile home and the jeep — 13 to 14 of them from the prison escape. Many of the weapons, which included sawed-off shotguns, had the serial numbers fully or partially filed off. Police say "a significant number" of weapons still need to be recovered.
The fourth escapee surrendered near their hideout. Rivas, Rodriguez, Halprin and Garcia are awaiting transfer to authorities in Texas before the end of the week. There, they each face capital murder charges and possibly the death penalty for the death of police officer Aubrey Hawkins, officials said. Their journey as fugitives lasted 41 days — and 800 miles.
One of the men was briefly treated for a two-week-old gunshot wound to his left foot, an investigator said.
Harper shot himself in the chest while police were trying to negotiate his surrender, law enforcement officials told ABCNEWS. Police said Harper barricaded himself in the RV in Woodland Park, about 20 miles west of Colorado Springs and about 50 miles southwest of Denver.
Police said they learned from Halprin that Harper had asked to speak with his father before he committed suicide. FBI officials said they had a cell phone ready for Harper, but when they called out to him they got no response.
SWAT Teams, Helicopters, and Lockdowns
As word of the arrests — and the possibility that two remaining fugitives may still be in the area — spread, members of the 7,000-resident Woodland Park community were put on high alert while helicopters and SWAT teams converged on the trailer park.
As a precaution, police told officials from nearby towns Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs to lock down their schools. Highways were blocked off, which was the first indication to local newspaper courier Sandy Pogue that there was trouble ahead.
"I saw the police officers, saw that traffic was slowing down, and asked one officer to please let me get through because I needed to get back here," said Pogue. "And then I heard it on the radio."
Carol Pflug, 44, a dishwasher at a nearby restaurant who lives a block away from the escapees' hideout, described the scene as surreal with more police suddenly in her small town than she has ever seen. She said she hasn't had time to consider whether the news frightens her, but added, "I think when this all hits me later this night, I'll be a basket case."
Pflug described the Woodland Park community as home to lower-income families and transients, which is why she suspects no one noticed the escapees until now.
Facing Justice in Texas
Since their escape, the Texas Seven have been suspected of committing two robberies, including a fatal Christmas Eve burglary of an Oshman's Super Sports Store USA in Irving, Texas. It was during that confrontation that Police officer Aubrey Hawkins was killed. Hawkins was shot 11 times, mostly in the head, then run over. All seven men have been charged with capital murder in the slaying.
Today, Hawkins' mother told Good Morning America that the death of her son had created a permanent void in her and her family's life. Wiping tears from her face, Jayne Hawkins, who spent all day at home Monday on the phone following the capture, said relief was the only word to describe her feelings.
"How do you identify how you feel when they've got the killer of your child?" she said. "There's no word other than relief."
Investigators were afraid of a violent showdown with the gang because they allegedly stole a heavy arsenal of weapons and apparently were not afraid to kill in order to prevent their capture. Officials say the escapees stole at least one automatic rifle, 14 .357-caliber Magnum pistols and 238 rounds of ammunition during their escape from the Connally Unit of the prison in Kenedy, Texas, and numerous guns from the sports store.
"Given the history and high profile nature of this case, it was surprising that they surrendered with so little resistance," FBI Special Agent Jane Monroe, who was at the scene Monday, told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
They are also suspected of stealing police scanners and two-way radios during a robbery of a Radio Shack store near Dallas, and those scanners, investigators believe, may have helped the escapees in the fatal Christmas Eve robbery. They have also commandeered and abandoned vehicles during their prison escape and alleged robberies, leading authorities to believe they are receiving outside help.
"We feel they had help hiding out in the Dallas area," said Mac Stringfellow, chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. "We don't know whether it was it was a gang or just one individual. We haven't found out how they were able to make the escape and what help we received."
There had been reports of Texas Seven sightings everywhere from New York City to a Dallas County fireworks stand to Canon City in southwestern Colorado, but none of the tips had proved fruitful — until today.
A $500,000 reward was offered for information leading to their capture and conviction. The man who called in the tip that led to the five arrests may be eligible. ABCNEWS.com's Bryan Robinson and Julia Campbell, ABCNEWS' Pierre Thomas and WBAP Radio in Dallas contributed to this report.