Rifle Likely Used By New York Trooper Shooting Suspect Recovered

Authorities said Tuesday they recovered a rifle that may have been used by a fugitive suspected in the shootings of two state troopers, one of whom later died.

State police found the .308 rifle Sunday, after searching areas where Ralph "Bucky" Phillips was believed to have spent time before he was captured Friday.

Phillips escaped April 2 from a New York jail and eluded police for five months, sparking one of the largest manhunts in state history. He is charged with attempted murder in the June shooting of a state trooper, and is suspected of shooting troopers Joseph Longobardo and Donald Baker Jr. on Aug. 31.

Longobardo died three days after being struck in the leg while staking out the home of Phillips' former girlfriend. Baker has been in critical condition in a Pennsylvania hospital.

Tests will be conducted to determine whether the rifle found was the one used in the Aug. 31 shootings, said Trooper Rebecca Gibbons.

The rifle is believed to be among those stolen from an Ellington, N.Y., gun shop during a break-in Aug. 26 or Aug. 27. Authorities suspect Phillips in the theft.

Pennsylvania state troopers recovered most of the guns within a few days of the burglary at the home of Todd Nelson. But roughly a half dozen guns remained missing.

Nelson was indicted Tuesday on charges he provided a pistol to Phillips and with possessing 35 stolen firearms found in his home.

Nelson, 30, was being held in jail. It was not immediately clear whether the Ludlow, Pa., resident had an attorney.

Chautauqua County authorities are weighing a possible aggravated murder charge against Phillips in Longobardo's death, said District Attorney David Foley. Federal authorities also are considering charging Phillips with weapons or other violations, said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Buffalo.