updated 7/12/2010 5:51:33 PM ET 2010-07-12T21:51:33

A resourceful teenage fugitive who police have called the "Barefoot Bandit" was being questioned inside a Bahamian jail Monday as he spent his first full day behind bars after an audacious two-year run that gave him near folk hero status.

Colton Harris-Moore was being held inside the two-story Central Detective Unit with access to phone calls and visitors from the U.S. Embassy as well as interrogators. Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said he was being interviewed by investigators but declined to say whether the 19-year-old had made any kind of statement to authorities or what they needed to build any case against him.

Greenslade was complimentary of Harris-Moore despite the weeklong manhunt that ended with police shooting out the outboard engine on a motorboat off Eleuthera island.

"He's very eloquent, obviously a very intelligent young man," Greenslade said.


Harris-Moore was expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday on suspicion of illegal weapons possession as well as a "litany" of other charges stemming from the week he spent in the Bahamas trying to evade police.

Police captured American teenager before dawn Sunday following a high-speed boat chase in off Eleuthera, one of two sparsely populated tourist islands where he allegedly committed a string of burglaries since crash-landing a plane in the Bahamas a week earlier.

It was only the latest caper for the teen from rural Camano Island, Washington, who is suspected of stealing cars, boats and at least five airplanes during a run from the law that began with his 2008 escape from a halfway house.

Greenslade said earlier that charges filed in the Bahamas will take priority over those in the U.S., but also noted the two countries have excellent relations and an extradition could happen more quickly than people might expect. He declined to comment further on how the case will be handled.

Greenslade also provided more details of the capture off Harbour Island, a small tourist destination that is part of northern Eleuthera.

He said Harris-Moore had a weapon as he tried to escape on a stolen speedboat one last time, but he did not fire at police officers. Islanders reported seeing the fugitive in the area and some civilians even participated in the chase that ended with police shooting out the engine on the fugitive's boat.

From the moment of his capture, Greenslade said Harris-Moore has been calm and cooperative.

"He gave us no trouble at all at the moment he was arrested," Greenslade said.

John Henry Browne, a lawyer asked by Harris-Moore's mother to represent her son, said the theft and burglary charges in the Bahamas are relatively minor but that alleged possession of a gun at the time of his capture could complicate the case.

Speaking to TODAY’s Matt Lauer Monday via satellite from Seattle, Browne said that the best scenario for his client would be if Bahamian authorities agree to allow all charges against Harris-Moore to be consolidated and tried in the United States.

So far, Browne said, the Bahamas is claiming jurisdiction over Harris-Moore, who is suspected of having committed a number of burglaries in the islands, and also could be charged with illegal possession of the airplane he allegedly flew there.

“I think if they want to hang onto him for a while, they probably could. But it would make a lot more sense to me for Colton’s best interests, and also for the government, I think, to try to consolidate all of these things and have him extradited to Seattle, where he’s charged in federal court in Seattle. When you’re in federal court, it’s a lot easier to consolidate things,” Browne said.

Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle, said that her office would seek to extradite Harris-Moore to Washington state and coordinate with local jurisdictions about how his case would proceed.

"There are obviously many jurisdictions that would like to prosecute him," she said.

His mother, Pamela Kohler of Camano Island, Washington, issued a statement expressing relief that the manhunt for her son had ended.

"I am very relieved that Colt is now safe and that no one was hurt during his capture," Kohler said. "I have not yet been able to speak to him. It has been over two-and-a-half years since I have seen him, and I miss him terribly."

Police dubbed Harris-Moore the "Barefoot Bandit" because he allegedly committed some of his crimes without shoes. His run converted him into a sort of folk hero, with some of the nearly 80,000 followers on his Facebook posting disappointed messages Monday.

Even some in the Bahamas had mixed feelings about his arrest.

"I feel like it would have been good if he got away because he never hurt anybody, but then he was running from the law," said Ruthie Key, who owns a market on Great Abaco Island and let Harris-Moore use her wireless Internet connection July 5.

"He seemed very innocent when I spoke with him at the store. I don't think he'd hurt anybody," Key said.

Island police had been searching for the teen since he allegedly crash-landed the plane on Abaco, where he was blamed for at least seven burglaries. The search expanded to Eleuthera after police there recovered a 44-foot powerboat reported stolen from Abaco.

Victims of the crimes Harris-Moore is accused of were happy to see him in custody.

"These people that support him, they've never been violated by having him break into their homes or businesses," said Joni Fowler, manager of a cafe on Orcas Island north of Seattle where Harris-Moore is accused of taking as much as $1,500. "Just knowing he has a huge network of supporters makes me really worry about the state of this country."

Fowler said she hopes Harris-Moore's arrest and upcoming court appearances will deflate his mystique and fame — "once everybody figures out he's no god."

Shauna Snyder, a private investigator on Whidbey Island near Camano, said she set up a legal defense fund for Harris-Moore at the request of his mother. She said that although she didn't know how much had been raised so far, the fund has been getting donations.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: ‘Barefoot Bandit’ talked out of suicide?

  1. Closed captioning of: ‘Barefoot Bandit’ talked out of suicide?

    >> let's begin this half hour with a dramatic end to a two-year manhunt for the so-called barefoot bandit. he was taken into custody in the bahamas on sunday nearly 3,000 miles from where his alleged crime spree began. we'll talk exclusively to his new attorney. first peter alexander is in nassau with the latest. good morning to you.

    >> reporter: good morning to you. dramatic is right. shots were fired by bahamian police knocking out both engines to the stolen boat he was in. this morning bahamian police say he's in protective police custody in nassau. the fbi describes his a regional nuisance who became a national problem and ultimately an international criminal. but bahamian authorities say the crime spree ends right here. true to his naik name he was barefoot when he was marched off a plane and into an suv on sunday. they arrested the 19-year-old fugitive before dawn on sunday after shooting out the engines of his stolen boat as harris - moore tried to make yet another escape this time in caribbean waters.

    >> the suspect in an effort to evade capture engaged local police in a high speed chase by boat. after a brief chase, the suspect was taken into custody without incident.

    >> reporter: for the so-called barefoot bandit is ends a two-year odyssey that included crimes in eight states from washington to indiana. he's accused of stealing cash, cars and at least five planes he taught himself to fly, including this one that investigators say the teenager stole in indiana before a crash landing at 1,000 miles away here in the bahamas . he snatched this suv from a family's garage, police here say, and later was seen barefoot at the sports bar in the bahamas buying a beer.

    >> you don't see too many 6'5" white guys walk through the door all the time.

    >> he was also spotted by surveillance cameras breaking into a restaurant before turning each of the cameras towards the wall.

    >> he looked very, very calm and at ease. it was like he was strolling into his own place.

    >> reporter: like he owned the place?

    >> like he owned the place.

    >> reporter: hthe dive shop was burglarized, too, with one significant piece of evidence left behind .

    >> it was a perfect hand print. it wasn't like it was accidental, like he accidentally touched something, like he went up on the window like i was here.

    >> reporter: police say harris - moore , first convicted of possessing stolen property when he was just 12, has been taunting authorities with his brazen antics since he escaped from a halfway house in washington state two years ago. he left behind this photo at one crime scene and chalk outlines of his now famous feet at another. harris - moore 's ability to elude police for so long has drawn comparesons to the movie "catch me if you can."

    >> would you like a drink after take-off?

    >> milk.

    >> reporter: online he has a following with more than 70,000 fans on facebook. on the small island where harris - moore was raised, there's relief.

    >> he's been elusive for a long time and done a lot of damage. i'm glad they finally caught him.

    >> reporter: now in custody harris - moore 's next trip could be could an extradition flight home. this morning we learn new information about how that chase ended. witnesses say that colton harris - moore threw his knapsack with an ipod and laptop into the water and held his own gun up to his head. bahamian police talked him out of it. his first court appearance is later this week because today is a national holiday , bahamian independence day .

    >> peter, thank you. criminal against attorney john henry brown has been hired by his mother. he's with us now exclusively. mr. brown, good morning to you.

    >> good morning, matt.

    >> it's my understanding although you've been contacted by his mother and have been talking to her, you have not had the chance to speak to colton personally yet. what's your first step in this case?

    >> obviously, getting some contact with colton . i've been informed by people i know in the bahamas that he was allowed one phone call yesterday. he called his aunt, because he didn't have his mother's new telephone number , and since then my name and number has been relayed to him. i know he knew his mother had hired me, but i don't think he had my telephone number . also the american consulate checked in on him in the last couple of hours and called and said that he was physically fine and was doing quite well.

    >> this guy's been on the run for a couple of years now. he's accused of committing a long list of crimes both in the united states and now in the bahamas . does the bahamas have jurisdiction here?

    >> i would believe they're claiming they do. as far as probably possession of stolen property, as far as the airplane is concerned and some allegations about burglaries in the islands. so i think if they wanted to hang onto him for a while, they probably could, but it would make a lot more sense to me for colton 's best interests and also for the government, i think, to consolidate all these things and have him extradited to seattle where he's charged in federal court in seattle . when you're in federal court , it's easier to consolidate things. otherwise it could be an administrative nightmare.

    >> there was a high-speed chase at the time of his arrest, there were shots fired at the boat he was in, and there were reports that he was carrying a gun, a weapon as well. how would that complicate his situation in the bahamas ?

    >> well, it actually seriously complicates things. i talked to some people in a position of authority in both the united states government and in the bahamas , and just having a weapon during the commission of a crime makes the sentence -- potential sentence much greater. however, everybody acknowledges that he was not using the gun to harm anybody, never pointed it at anybody, but unfortunately just having a possession of a gun during the commission of a crime makes crimes much more serious.

    >> there's been so much publicity, mr. brown, surrounding this young man for the last couple of years. he's kind of a folk-lore stat stus, and he's a folk hero to some and a run of the mill criminal to others. how would you handle with the publicity this case has already generated?

    >> i would hope my job could be to neutralize that in the long run, the intentional die-down at some point and israel this is as far as i'm concerned one of my normal criminal defense cases and just try to deal with it in an efficient manner. it will always have a special ring to it because of the note right of the whole thing. the u.s. attorney in seattle is a very level-headed person, and i think, you know, it's a case. we have to view it as a case and approach it like we would with most normal cases. that's going to be a challenge for me. there's no question about that.

    >> i don't know how much time you've had, but i'm sure you looked orr the string of allegations against mr. moore . what kind of jail time is he facing if convicted on the most serious charges here?

    >> well, i've been asked that question. based on doing this for a long, long time, if we could consolidate everything in seattle in federal court , then i would -- the best i can do is give you an estimate. it would probably be somewhere between 4 and 12 years, something like that. if it hadn't had some much note righty it would it be much closer to 4 or less than that. given the number of allegations, of course, daifsh i don't kn -- i don't k now the proof on any of these. there's proof that's clear and they're other alleged crimes we don't know he's involved in at all. for the notoriety, it would abe case you could resolve for less than four years. because of that, i think it will be a higher number.

    >> john henry brown . mr. brown, i appreciate your time this morning. thanks very much for talking to us.

    >> you're welcome.


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