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Police arrest Illinois fugitive in Wisconsin

Published On: May 02 2013 04:23:45 PM CDT
Updated On: May 03 2013 01:02:50 PM CDT
Paris Poe

Paris Poe

FITCHBURG, Wis. (AP) -

An Illinois fugitive was arrested Thursday evening on a Madison highway after a daylong manhunt in south-central Wisconsin that drove several local schools to lock down for hours and left neighbors on edge, police said.

A SWAT team arrested Paris Poe, 33, of Chicago, in a vehicle on state Highway 30 shortly after 7 p.m., Madison Police Lt. Cory Nelson told The Associated Press. Nelson said police received a tip from the public that Poe and a woman were driving a Ford Crown Victoria.

Police performed a "high-risk traffic stop" by pointing weapons at the vehicle and ordering Poe out of the car, Nelson said. Poe did not resist arrest, Nelson said. No one was hurt.

Poe was wanted for questioning in a federal murder investigation and for an alleged parole violation. He was spotted at a hotel in Madison on Thursday morning, prompting authorities to swarm the area. FBI agents said they believed Poe was possibly armed with a handgun.

"We are urging anyone who may see something suspicious, if they see something that's amiss in their backyard and they're in this area, please call us," FBI spokesman G.B. Jones said at a news conference in Fitchburg, a town just south of Madison.

Poe was convicted of aggravated battery and robbery in 2009 and paroled in June 2011. He's now charged with traveling across state lines to avoid custody for a parole violation. An FBI bulletin issued last month did not include details of the federal murder investigation or how it relates to the current charges.

An FBI spokeswoman in Chicago declined to comment on the homicide investigation Thursday.

Poe was spotted Thursday morning at a Country Inn & Suites in a rural area near Madison's border with suburban Fitchburg, home to about 25,250 people. Police converged on the hotel but missed Poe by 10 minutes, Jones said. Someone at the hotel apparently tipped Poe off, Jones said, but he declined to elaborate.

The FBI released photos taken from security-camera footage and announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

Leads in the search had begun to dwindle by early Thursday evening, however.

Loraine Hill, a 47-year-old cashier at the Bavaria Sausage Kitchen, a cheese and sausage store down the road from the hotel, said police arrived at the store around 11:30 a.m. and told employees to lock their doors and stay inside.

Pumped up on adrenaline, Hill went outside anyway and started snapping pictures of SWAT team members searching the fields around the hotel with weapons drawn. Her co-worker, 49-year-old Ginny Meier, was still so shaken up Thursday afternoon she forgot to give a customer his change.

John Bentz, 87, lives in a subdivision near the hotel in a house with a front door plastered with National Rifle Association stickers. He said he didn't know anything was amiss until he turned on the television news and saw a story about Poe. His son checked his garage to make sure Poe was not hiding in it, he said.

"I thought, `Holy crap, this is right in our backyard,"' Bentz said. "This guy must be pretty dangerous. My God."

The daylong manhunt for Poe prompted several Madison-area schools to lock down for at least a few hours but no injuries were reported.

Luis Yudice, a spokesman for the Madison Metropolitan School District, said officials locked down Chavez and Leopold elementary schools Thursday afternoon as a precaution after consulting with police. He said the students were all released safely within about two hours.

"Our doors are already locked anyway, but under this situation it means all outdoor activities are canceled," Yudice said.

Madison police officers went to both schools to make sure the local areas were safe, police spokesman Joel DeSpain said.

All the schools in the Verona Area School District were locked down for almost three hours, with classroom doors locked and students told to stay down, according to the district website. Bus services were discontinued pending an all-clear from police, and students were only allowed to leave if their parents or guardians came to pick them up.

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The FBI says it's reasonably confident that an Illinois fugitive spotted in south-central Wisconsin is still in the area.

Police and FBI agents are searching for 33-year-old Paris Poe of Chicago. He was last seen at a Country Inn & Suites in the Madison-area town of Fitchburg on Thursday morning.

FBI spokesman G.B. Jones says the agency is still receiving tips suggesting Poe is in a 3-mile radius of the hotel.

Jones says residents shouldn't be scared, even though Poe is believed to be armed with a handgun. He says the FBI has no information to suggest Poe is a specific threat to anyone.

Poe was convicted of aggravated battery and robbery in 2009 and paroled in June 2011. He's now charged with traveling interstate to avoid custody for a parole violation.

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