GRAPEVINE — After an intensive four-day manhunt, fugitive Alberto Morales was shot and killed by three officers near Grapevine Lake late Friday night, according to Grapevine police.
“I’m just so elated,” said neighborhood resident Martha Eberlein. “I’m so happy; I’m so relieved that this man’s been caught and we don’t have to be on such a lookout.”
The beginning of the end for Morales came less than three miles north of the Walmart parking lot where he made his violent escape Monday night.
Police responded to a residential burglary report about 5 p.m. Friday and discovered men’s clothes and jewelry had been taken.
The task force grew suspicious with the theft of clothing, and refocused its search for Morales near the 2100 block of Forest Hills Road, where the burglary happened.
Morales was eventually found just before midnight in a wooded area about 100 yards from the Lake Forest Boat Club with the help of the Fort Worth police helicopter.
A Grapevine police officer and two members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force surrounded him and opened fire after they were threatened with sticks Morales was wielding.
“At this point, as far as the investigation’s concerned, Mr. Morales was shot and is now deceased,” Grapevine police spokesman Sgt. Robert Eberling added. “We’re really relieved for the citizens of this community. We knew we had a dangerous individual out there on the streets, and he was capable of being extremely violent.”
Grapevine police confirmed that the fugitive was found without any shackles that had been in place when he escaped. He was still wearing a the hooded prison-issued sweatshirt when found, Eberling said.
“I’m elated for the community. It’s a good thing nobody got hurt,” said neighborhood resident Teresa Parker.
“I feel nervous and anxious, but I feel grateful for our police officers,” added Darlene Freed.
Morales — considered armed and extremely dangerous — had been at large after stabbing Miami-Dade County Detective Jamie Pardinas with a pair of eyeglasses Monday night as he was in transit to Las Vegas for a trial.
Pardinas has just been released from treatment at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas and was said to be resting comfortably at an area hotel, where he is likely to remain for several more days until travel restrictions are lifted.
The violent escape happened in the parking lot of a Walmart store at the corner of Highway 26 and Highway 114 in Grapevine, about 2.6 miles south of where Morales was gunned down.
For days, fear and anxiety grew in Grapevine and surrounding cities after Morales eluded capture. Schools even went on lockdown multiple days this week as a precaution.
Neighbors told News 8 on Facebook and Twitter that they could hear gunshots late Friday night when police finally cornered Morales. One person said the fleeing felon was felled in a horse pasture near some boat houses at Lake Grapevine.
“We are somewhat surprised — especially with the weather, the terrain — that someone was able to remain hidden for so long,” Eberling said. “He obviously wasn’t familiar with the area ... he felt more safe to be in a wooded area than trying to find shelter somewhere else or travel to another city.”
The Miami-Dade County Police Department also confirmed to News 8 that Morales had been killed. Its officer is still recovering at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, but he was expected to be released soon and make a full recovery.
The body was taken to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office as several dozen officers gathered evidence at the scene.
The Grapevine officer who was involved in the shooting was placed on routine administrative leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” Grapevine resident Elmer Simendinger said. “I think we’re all relieved.”
WFAA Photojournalist Robert Flagg contributed to this report.