April 6, 2007
Timing is everything in the news business. You never know when a bathroom break can lead to the capture of a wanted fugitive.
I was in New Jersey this morning with Correspondent Laura Ingle, Producer Melanie Schuman, Audio Tech Melvin Davis and Photographers Paul Alvarez and Rich D'Elia. We were doing live shots from the bank where an FBI agent was shot dead yesterday, possibly by friendly fire, while tracking down some wanted bank robbers. One of the three suspects got away and the manhunt was on.
Things were quiet at when Paul and I decided to hit the bathroom at the Dunkin Donuts down the street to grab coffee and to wake and warm everybody up. We were about to turn into the parking lot when two N.J. State Police cars whizzed by, lights flashing — but no sirens. Had we been at our live shot location, we wouldn't have noticed them. "Let's follow them!" we both yelled at the same time.
Paul, who is a self-proclaimed "slow driver," hit the gas. We followed the two police cars down Route 22 East. More police cars and scrambling news trucks parked alongside the road joined the caravan. We finally ended up in the parking lot of a ramshackle motel. Four cop cars were parked at the end of the property by a red and white house. More police and media arrived with each passing minute.
Paul started taping while I called in the information to our Assignment Desk, and to Laura and Melanie who were going live up the road with the story. It was pretty clear that cops were hot on the suspect's trail when the K-9 unit arrived. Paul and I were just feet from the tree line as the officer and his dog headed into the woods. Suddenly a state trooper started yelling at us to get back. The media was banished to the far end of the property and made to stand on a patch of grass. It was hard to see what was happening down by the woods. Luckily, someone had a police scanner, so the news quickly spread in whispers, "They got him."
Francisco Herrera-Genao, 22, was found wearing only pants, and covered in mud and leaves. When police found him he said, "Please shoot me, please kill me." It looked like he spent his night on the run in the woods, in near-freezing temperatures. Along the way he lost his shirt, socks, shoes, and now, his freedom. Another one of the FBI's "Most Wanted" scratched off the list.
We followed police as they took the suspect to the state barracks where I finally got to use the bathroom.
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Kathleen Foster is a general assignment Field Producer based in New York. She started at FOX as an intern in 1996. She has covered the Iraq war, the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, and the fight for Anna Nicole's body.