New York Police Search for Armed Soldier Who Escaped Military Custody

Police in central New York are searching for an armed, suicidal Fort Drum soldier dressed in camouflage who escaped military custody and led police on a multi-county car chase Thursday night, authorities said.

Russell C. Marcum, 20, had been in custody facing burglary charges when the camouflage-clad soldier escaped and stole a white 2003 Chevy Avalanche. A vehicle chase through Madison, Oneida and Otsego counties ended when police damaged the tires of the car. He fled on foot into a wooded area near Richfield Springs, south of Utica.

The Observer-Dispatch of Utica reports that Marcum was armed with a handgun and may be wearing a bullet-proof vest. Marcum, who is considered dangerous, reportedly said that he would force police to shoot him to end his life.

The Watertown Daily Times reports that Marcum was arrested Monday on a charge of third-degree burglary after being accused of stealing a $700 plasma TV from a storage unit.

Marcum is a private first class from Morgantown, W.Va., who joined the Army in August 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan this year from January to March, according to officials at Fort Drum.

Fort Drum spokeswoman Julie Cupernall said Marcum had been under "unit custody" in barracks Thursday after making bail on the civilian charge. Marcum was not under military police custody, but was being watched by a member of his unit, she said.

Police reportedly set up a scanning area Friday morning to check cars passing through for any sign of Marcum. A state police helicopter could also be seen searching the area, the Observer-Dispatch reports.

Marcum was last reported to be in a swampy area, according to the newspaper.

Click here for more on this story from the Observer-Dispatch of Utica.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.