'Barefoot Bandit' Busted: Arrest Draws Cheers, Sympathy

Security at Bahamas marina said Colton Harris-Moore afraid of being killed.

July 6, 2010, 1:43 PM

July 12, 2010— -- This weekend's arrest of "Barefoot Bandit" Colton Harris-Moore drew big cheers in the Pacific Northwest where some of his alleged victims had spent two years waiting for justice and shaking their heads at the throngs of fans that supported the 19-year-old fugitive.

"It's great. It's exciting," said Orcas Island, Wash., business owner Kyle Ater, believed to be a 'Barefoot Bandit' victim. "He looks pretty pitiful now, being led away in handcuffs."

Harris-Moore is awaiting a court hearing in a Bahamian jail cell after his years on the run came ended Sunday with a high-speed boat chase and police shoot-out, during which Harris-Moore appeared to consider killing himself before surrendering to authorities.

Ater, said he was gathering produce on Sunday for his store "and phone calls start pouring in."

"He needs to pay for the crimes he's committed," said Ater, who believes Harris-Moore broke into his Homegrown Market & Gourmet Delicatessen on Feb. 11. "It would be nice if they would extradite him and send him back."

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.

He is expected to appear in court Tuesday.

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.

'Barefoot Bandit' Spent Last Moments of Freedom in Panic

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

The bandit's last moments of freedom on the island of Eleuthera appeared to have been filled with panic, according to Kenny Strachan security director of the Romora Bay Marina where the teen was taken into custody.

Strachan told ABCNews.com today that he first spotted a teen, who he initially didn't recognize, racing away from the boats towards 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.

And then he saw that Harris-Moore was fleeing with a gun.

"He told me someone tried to hold him hostage or kill him," Strachan said, describing how he tried to talk to Harris-Moore while running alongside him, all the while keeping an eye on that gun.

"He didn't have on his shoes at that time -- he was running bare feet," he said.

"I tried to explain to him that no one was trying to hurt him," Strachan continued. "He said, 'Man they're trying to kill me.'"

When Harris-Moore raced out of his reach, Strachan said he ran back to his post and called police, telling them "the bandit is here with me." When they discovered that Harris-Moore had snaked his way back to the marina and climbed aboard a boat with the keys left inside, police borrowed a boat from a marina patron and took off after him.

"There were shots fired. They gave him a warning shot. And he had his gun too," Strachan said.

Strachan watched from the dock as police shot out the stolen boat's engine, stranding it on a sand bank in the water. He then saw Harris-Moore motion with his gun that he was going to kill himself.

But as police advanced, he said, Harris-Moore instead began throwing his possessions overboard, including the gun and a laptop. Both were later recovered by police.

"I'm glad he got caught, but most, most important he didn't get hurt," Strachan said.

Harris-Moore has been on the run in the Bahamas for a week, after allegedly stealing a plane from an Indiana hangar to get there. He has achieved a type of folk-hero status, similar to one he earned in the United States.

"Most people -- they were saying he's amazing. He's a wizard kid," Strachan said.

Fans Saddened by 'Barefoot Bandit' Arrest

But at the same time, he made Bahamian residents nervous as he darted around the nation's islands. Strachan said one elderly woman told him she was afraid, after seeing the teen run with his gun in hand.

Back in Washington, Ater said he was surprised that so many people there were almost saddened by his arrest after he allegedly left so many victims behind. But, Ater noted, many of those lamenting his capture were teenage girls swooning over the ultimate bad boy.

"They hoped he would have made it," he said. "It's not okay. I don't know how people can watch that and say, 'Aw, it's sad.'"

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!!!"

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.

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.

'Barefoot Bandit's' Internet Fans Raise Money for Defense

Even before Harris-Moore's arrest, several business-savy followers were trying to cash in on his story.

Several months ago a local businessman in Washington state took to printing T-shirts bearing his likeness with the slogan "Momma Tried."

Even a movie deal and a book proposal are in the works.

"I think it's pretty sad that people are creating a hero out of a criminal," the FBI's Dean said. "There has to be a victim here. People are losing their cars, people are having their houses broken into. People are losing their boats and their planes."

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 ABCNews.com 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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