A break-in late Sunday night bore some of Colton Harris-Moore's trademarks: The thief broke into an empty home and helped himself to necessities: blankets, food and shoes.
Then somebody shot at Snohomish County sheriff's deputies as they searched the woods.
“This person was obviously willing to fire on deputies,” sheriff's spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said. “That raises a public safety concern right there.”
Hover would not say if Harris-Moore, 18, is a suspect.
The break-in occurred in the same densely wooded area where a logger on Thursday found a plane that crash landed in a clear cut.
The airplane was stolen Sept. 29 from an airport in Northern Idaho, and sheriff's officials there haven't ruled out the link to Harris-Moore. A trail of stolen vehicles led back from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, west to British Columbia and on to Point Roberts, the tiny Whatcom County community where officials last pegged the teenager's movements.
Harris-Moore is a suspect in dozens of burglaries near his mother's home on south Camano Island and is suspected of stealing two planes from the San Juan Islands, then fleeing the islands in a stolen boat. He escaped from a juvenile detention home in April 2008 and has been on the lam since.
“He's becoming a folk hero to a lot of people,” said Zack Sestak, 26, of Mukilteo.
Sestak recently started a Facebook fan page dedicated to the young serial burglar.
In the past few days, membership has surged with people joining the Internet page from all over the world, Sestak said.
The Web site is dedicated to Harris-Moore's exploits. It calls him a modern-day Jesse James — minus the murders.
“Do I hope he gets caught? I wouldn't really wish that on anybody,” Sestak said. “It's a fun story, because of the nature of what he's doing.”
If it turns out that Harris-Moore shot at deputies Sunday night, Sestak said, that might change things.
Seattle T-shirt artist Adin Stevens was inspired by the tale of the elusive teenager. He created a fan club shirt for friends that features the teen's photo, which Harris-Moore took of himself with a stolen camera, and the words, “Momma Tried,” a reference to a Merle Haggard song.
“He's pretty gangster. It's rad to see a kid his age going for it,” Stevens said.
Harris-Moore has not been connected to violent crimes in the past, though he has been linked to stealing firearms, including a Smith & Wesson rifle with a holographic sight taken from an Island County deputy's police car.
Snohomish County deputies took Sunday's gunfire seriously and called for reinforcements.
“That took it up several notches,” Hover said.
About three dozen police officers and sheriff's deputies, many heavily armed and dressed in camouflage uniforms, combed the woods for signs of the suspect.
The small police station in nearby Granite Falls was overrun by sheriff's officials and it was hard to find an empty parking space in the typically quiet mountain town. S. Granite Avenue on Monday was lined with police vehicles.
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security Black Hawk helicopter hovered over the area using sophisticated electronics as part of the manhunt. The equipment on the helicopter, operated by the Office of Air and Marine, was able to peer through the dense forest canopy better than the special video cameras used aboard the sheriff's office chopper.
Sunday night's extensive police search woke up Bob and Eva Clemence. Sheriff's deputies converged on the subdivision where they live, about a half-mile from the burglary scene.
The whirl of helicopter blades made it impossible to sleep, Eva Clemence said. Barking police dogs echoed from the woods near their home.
“If he's brazen enough to shoot at a police officer ... that makes you a little leery,” Bob Clemence said of the suspect.
Sheriff's officials closed much of Menzel Lake Road during Monday's search, out of concern for public safety, Hover said.
That forced Mariah Schroeder to make new plans. She had intended to do laundry, but a sheriff's deputy turned her back when she tried to return home after morning errands.
“I can't get home,” she said.
While sheriff's officials continued to deny any firm link to the Camano Island teenager, Schroeder said she believed that Harris-Moore likely was responsible.
“I hope it's him,” she said, adding that the teen's capture would be welcome.
On Monday, sheriff's officials vowed to keep firm pressure on the burglary suspect, whoever it turns out to be.
As the sun dipped low in the sky, no suspect was in handcuffs. Still, the search wasn't necessarily over.
“We're going to keep going until we either arrest this person or can say with some degree of certainty that the suspect isn't there anymore,” Hover said.
Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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