Meet the chocolate Labrador behind the arrest of fugitive Michael Burham
Tucker's owners received a $2,000 cash reward for calling in their tip.
Ron and Cindy Ecklund were enjoying a Saturday afternoon in their backyard when their dog, a chocolate Labrador mix named Tucker, began barking.
“Usually if I call him he comes right back to the house,” Ron Ecklund described to ABC News. “He wouldn't, so I said, ‘Cindy, let's get on the golf cart.’”
Off they went into their backyard, expecting to find a fisherman or a hiker near the creek on their property. Instead, the couple came face-to-face with Michael Burham, who had escaped from a local prison over a week ago.
“Suddenly, this person stands up, and it's Michael – I recognize him right away,” Ron Ecklund said, noticing Burham’s tattoos, which had been featured in recent news reports.
During a news conference in their back yard Tuesday, Cindy Ecklund said she and her husband retreated quickly from Burham, citing warnings from authorities that he could be armed and dangerous.
"If you want to talk about how afraid we were, the 911 call people on the phone had to have thought I was nuts because I was pretty adamant and said, 'Please get here. He's in my backyard," Cindy Ecklund said.
Burham escaped from the Warren County Jail in Pennsylvania on July 6, using a rope fashioned from bed sheets to descend from the roof of the prison. In the following eight days, the high-profile fugitive held the town of Warren on edge, with daily news conferences reminding residents not to approach the dangerous fugitive.
A fan of tennis balls and birds, Tucker generally loves people, though "he knew something was going on" when he discovered Burham, according to Cindy Ecklund.
When confronted by the Ecklunds, Burham claimed that he was “camping" in the couple’s backyard.
“I thought he was gone. I never thought he was in the backyard,” Ron Ecklund said in an interview with ABC affiliate WJET.
Returning to her home, Cindy Ecklund called 911 around 3:57 p.m. on Friday, according to Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens. Police eventually tracked Burham to a nearby road, where he was arrested at gunpoint by officers from the U.S. Marshalls, Customs and Border Protection, and New York State Police, according to Bivens.
For their role in the arrest, the Ecklunds and their loyal chocolate Labrador and Chesapeake Bay retriever were presented on Tuesday with an envelop containing $2,000 in cash from Gary Barnes, president of Warren County Crime Stoppers.
Cindy Ecklund said that for his role in the arrest, 6-year-old Tucker has also been rewarded with a new collar, a bucket containing 48 fresh tennis balls and several new toys.
"And there is a ribeye streak in the fridge waiting for him after all this is over," Cindy Ecklund said at Tuesday news conference.
While the $2,000 could purchase over 13,000 Milk-Bone dog biscuits, Cindy Ecklund said she and her husband plan to use their reward money to improve their water well, or improve their home's siding if they receive the full reward of $19,500, which also includes $10,000 from Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers and $7,500 from the U.S. Marshals Service.
Asked Tuesday what her response was to Tucker's heroics, Cindy Ecklund said, "He was protecting us and you can't ask for a better best friend than that."
ABC News' Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.