Search ends for robbery suspect; city, county, K9 and SRT work together
In a joint effort by Missoula City and County officers, 31-year-old Michael Burke was found and arrested in a wooded area of Evaro Hill.
Burke is suspected of armed robbery of a Missoula Walgreens pharmacy at 8:48 p.m. Friday night.
The chase began at 8:50 p.m. and led city officers west on Broadway, past the Wye and then north on Highway 93 to Mountain Home Lane.
The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office joined the pursuit when Burke hit the highway. The chase reached speeds of 110 mph and higher.
The 31-year-old man allegedly crashed his tan Lexus into a ditch after the tires were flattened by stop sticks near mile marker 14.
Police say Burke then fled into the wooded area near the crash. At some point in the wooded flee, he attempted to change clothes.
City and county officers were aided by a K9 unit for the first couple of hours. They called on the county’s Special Reaction Team (SRT) around 11 p.m.
All units searched the woods and nearby residences. A special alert was broadcast by the county sheriff’s office around midnight to warn residents in the area to be on the lookout and not pick up any hitch hikers.
Francis Brown lives in one of the houses at the edge of the woods where police were searching for the armed suspect.
Brown was working late when he heard about what was happening in his neighborhood. He says he felt helpless.
"I'm glad the police were there doing their job. It was a scary situation with my kids at home with my wife, all alone. Anything could have happened to them."
At 12:39 a.m. Michael Burke was found hiding in the woods just outside Brown's home.
Police will not disclose whether Burke had a firearm on him when he was located, but he had been described as armed and dangerous with a handgun.
Burke will make an initial court appearance on Monday where he faces three felony charges of robbery, criminal endangerment and criminal possession of dangerous drugs/opiate. He also faces one misdemeanor of fleeing from or eluding a peace officer.
Burke is held in the Missoula County detention facility.