The Barefoot Bandit lands in The Bahamas
When Colton Harris-Moore, the teen known as the”Barefoot Bandit”, crash-landed in Abaco this summer, The Bahamas once again became the focus of media attention from around the world.
Prior to July 2010, Harris-Moore was little known in The Bahamas. He was the subject of a major manhunt in the United States, however.
Authorities said his crash-landing came after a string of suspected thefts of aircraft, boats and cars in the northern U.S.
Harris-Moore’s frequent run-ins with the law culminated in a three-year sentence of detention. But after early release, American authorities said he escaped from a halfway house in April 2008 and began a spree of burglaries in the Washington State area.
Harris-Moore earned the name”Barefoot Bandit”because it is believed he committed most of his alleged crimes without shoes.
In The Bahamas, police suspected that Harris-Moore continued his crime spree by breaking into several stores and homes in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, before stealing a boat and heading to Eleuthera.
It was on that island that, after two years of staying a step ahead of the law and building a reputation as a twenty-first century folk hero, Harris-Moore was captured.
On July 11 residents recognized the 19-year-old, they called police and a chase ensued at sea.
Police shot out the engines of the boat Harris-Moore attempted to escape on. Police said he was carrying a gun when he was captured.
On July 11 police flew a shackled Harris-Moore to New Providence. The barefoot teen walked off the plane wearing short cargo pants, a white shirt and a bulletproof vest.
It was originally expected that Harris-Moore would be arraigned in a Bahamian court, facing numerous charges for the alleged crimes he committed in the country.
“The suspect, in an effort to evade capture, engaged local police in a high-speed chase by boat in waters leading to Whale Point, in The Eleutheras. After a brief chase, the suspect was taken into custody without incident. Police officers were able to confiscate a firearm and other items of evidential value,”Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said at a news conference after Harris-Moore’s capture.
“The Barefoot Bandit was flown to the capital city of Nassau, Bahamas under police escort and remains in police custody. It is expected that he will appear in court on arraignment later this week to answer to a number of criminal charges. I also wish to advise that the suspect was seen by a local doctor, shortly after his arrest, and appeared to be in good health.”
Despite the declaration by the commissioner days earlier, Harris-Moore was only charged with illegal landing and fined$300 on July 13. He was then deported to the United States.
The decision to only charge Harris-Moore with illegal entry caused controversy.
Opposition Leader Perry Christie called Harris-Moore’s quick exit out of the country a national disgrace.
Christie toldThe Guardianthat the decision to charge Harris-Moore with one minor offense, after police said he committed several more serious crimes in The Bahamas, is clear evidence of a double standard in the administration of justice in The Bahamas.
However, at a news conference in late September, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham insisted there was no proof that the teen committed any crime besides being in The Bahamas illegally.
Harris-Moore now faces trial for crimes he allegedly committed in the U.S. before landing in Abaco.