Inside the Dramatic Arrest of 'Barefoot Bandit'

Colton Harris-Moore expected to make his first court appearance today.

July 13, 2010, 1:43 PM

July 13, 2010— -- Colton Harris-Moore, the U.S. teenager known as the "Barefoot Bandit," will finally face charges after an alleged two-year crime spree that turned the 19-year-old fugitive into a kind of folk hero.

Harris-Moore is expected to make his first court appearance in the Bahamas around noon today. But it's hard to imagine that the coming chapters will be as dramatic as his last 30 minutes of freedom, which included a high-speed boat chase and police shoot-out where he appeared to consider killing himself before surrendering to authorities.

The bandit's last moments of freedom on Harbor Island appeared to have been filled with panic. At 2:45 a.m. Sunday morning, Harris-Moore left his shoes and shirt on the dock of the Romora Bay Marina, dove into the waters and swam to a boat.

"We hear some commotion outside and found out that my boat was stole, and then find out subsequently it was the 'Barefoot Bandit' everybody has been talking about," boat owner William Sport said.

Kenny Strachan, security director of the Romora Bay Marina where the teen was taken into custody, told ABC that he first spotted a teen racing away from the boats toward the exit of the marina. Strachan caught up with him and realized that it was the same teenager whose face had been plastered all over the Bahamas, fleeing with a gun.

When police learned that Harris-Moore had snaked his way back to the marina and climbed aboard a boat with the keys left inside, police borrowed a yacht from a marina patron and chased the bandit down.

"Everyone was screaming, 'You're caught. Put down your weapon ... Stop,'" said Jordan Sackett, who helped catch the fugitive. "He proceeded to put the weapon to his head ... saying, 'I'm going to kill myself. ... I won't go back to jail. I can't go back to jail.'"

Police fired on the stolen boat, disabling one engine with a shotgun and the other with an Uzi.

"The FBI told the Bahamian police to stop this guy at any cost," Sport said. "The cost is going to be my boat."

As police advanced, Harris-Moore began throwing his possessions overboard, including the gun and a laptop. Both were later recovered by police.

By 3:15 a.m., Harris-Moore was taken off the bullet-ridden boat and into custody.

"He was scared as it was happening but once it calmed down, once the shooting was over ... he was very nonchalant ... like he didn't care it had happened," Sackett said.

Harris-Moore had been on the run in the Bahamas for a week, after allegedly stealing a plane from an Indiana hangar to get there.

The FBI had been tracking Harris-Moore for about a year and offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

"He went from being a regional nuisance to an international problem," FBI Assistant Special Agent Steven Dean said last week before Harris-Moore's arrest.

'Barefoot Bandit' Eluded Police From Pacific Northwest to Bahamas

Dubbed the "Barefoot Bandit" for his penchant for allegedly breaking and entering sans shoes, Harris-Moore had eluded police in the Pacific Northwest for well over a year before apparently branching out to the Midwest and then to the Bahamas.

He is suspected of committing a series of crimes -- from burglary to boat and plane thefts -- in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana. Police in the Bahamas said there's evidence he committed burglaries on the island.

All the way, he seemed to taunt police, leaving chalk footprints and sometimes a picture of himself. Earlier this year he left $100 for a Washington animal hospital. The veterinarian there told ABC News that when police seized the money as evidence, Harris-Moore's mother, Pam Kohler, replaced the money with $100 of her own.

Kohler, who has made comments in support of her son in the past, issued a statement after his arrest saying she was relieved her son was safe and that no one was hurt. She said she hasn't seen her son in more than two years, but she's looking forward to seeing him soon.

Legal experts say Harris-Moore will likely be extradited to the United States after he faces charges in the Bahamas.

The Associated Press today quoted Bahamian Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade as saying that Harris-Moore would stand trial on weapons possession and other charges, some of them likely to include his suspected involvement in a string of burglaries there.

Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne, who said he's been hired by Harris-Moore's mother, did not return messages seeking comment, but told ABC's Seattle affiliate KOMO that he would like to see the numerous local and federal charges against the teen be consolidated in federal court in Seattle.

Browne told the affiliate that he has been in contact with the U.S. consulate in the Bahamas.

"He was, I think, upset, but understandably," Browne said of Harris-Moore. "I think he's doing OK."

'Barefoot Bandit' Fans Flock to Facebook

Back in the Pacific Northwest, the arrest of "Barefoot Bandit" drew cheers from some of his alleged victims and tears from his fans.

A Facebook page dedicated to Harris-Moore today boasted more than 75,000 fans.

"Dude bummer that u got caught," one poster wrote, 'but u made history and no one will forget that."

"Dang Colton," wrote another, "I was for sure you were NEVER going to get caught!!! Shucks!!!"

Harris-Moore's supporters recently began preparing for his arrest.

Shauna Snyder, who describes herself on her Web site as a criminal defense investigator and owner of Skepteon Investigations, is collecting the donations for Harris-Moore's legal defense fund.

"It is confirmed that Colton has been arrested in the Bahamas," Snyder wrote on her Web page dedicated to Harris-Moore. "Please donate to help protect Colton's rights."

She declined to tell how much she had collected for the teen.

"Donations have been coming in," she said, "and there's been a lot of interest."

She wrote on her Web site that she met Harris-Moore while working on his defense team when he was 16 years old. She described him as a "friendly, polite and intelligent kid."

Kohler also posted a plea for donations, saying her son has been wrongly accused of crimes since he was a child.

"Now there's not a break-in or a theft in the entire Northwest that the media or law enforcement doesn't rush to pin on Colt," said Kohler in her online plea.

"We have no way of knowing what charges will be filed against Colt. The media has already convicted him as 'the Barefoot Bandit' and created widespread accusations and perception of guilt," the statement continued. "Eventually, though, Colt will have to fight for his freedom against the full force of the legal system."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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