Fugitive Charles Chitat Ng, sought in an international manhunt since he was linked four weeks ago to grisly mass slayings in Northern California, was captured Saturday in Calgary, Canada, after a security guard spotted him trying to shoplift food from a store.
Ng fired two shots in an unsuccessful escape attempt but was subdued by unarmed store guards and two Calgary police officers, Canadian authorities said. One guard suffered a minor gunshot wound to the hand but Ng was uninjured.
The 23-year-old suspect has been linked by police with Leonard T. Lake in the disappearances of 22 people, including two families.
Grisly Scene at Cabin
The bodies of nine people--who authorities fear were kidnaped, tortured, murdered, burned and dismembered--were unearthed at a remote cabin near Wilseyville in Calaveras County. Also found at the cabin, where Lake lived, were about 40 pounds of human bone fragments.
Lake slipped into a coma and died four days after he was arrested by South San Francisco police June 2 outside a lumber yard where Ng allegedly tried to steal a vise. Authorities believe that Lake swallowed poison.
Ng fled before police arrived and for 34 days successfully avoided a dragnet set up by the FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Interpol until Saturday.
San Francisco police, who operated a special hot line to collect tips on Ng's whereabouts, believe him to be the only person capable of unraveling the gruesome events in Wilseyville.
"Hopefully, (his capture) will (help to) answer some questions and tie together some loose ends," said Officer Dan Greely.
In Calgary, Officer Harley Johnson said officials were keeping a close eye on Ng to prevent him from taking his life as did Lake. "He has been segregated and is under surveillance," Johnson said.
Johnson said the city's 1,200-person police force received word some time ago that Ng (pronounced ing) might head for that city, 150 miles north of the U.S. border in the province of Alberta. Police believe Ng may have relatives in Calgary but there were no confirmed sightings of him until a scuffle broke out Saturday in a Hudson Bay Co. store.
Johnson said Ng entered the store about noon and a short time later was seen by a security guard. Ng apparently was trying to steal food. The guard, John Doyle, 45, approached Ng but the suspect bolted, drew a gun and fired twice at Doyle, striking the guard once in the left hand.
Another unarmed guard rushed to assist Doyle, and simultaneously a store patron alerted two Calgary police officers outside the store, Johnson said.
Ng was dressed casually in a T-shirt and pants--"He fit in with the tourist crowd," Johnson said. Although it had been reported earlier that Ng had shorn his sideburns and shaved his eyebrows in an effort to avoid detection, Johnson said the suspect "looked very similar" to a picture circulated among law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada.
"The two officers suspected (it was Ng) almost immediately," he said.
Ng was carrying identification bearing his true name, Johnson said. His identity was confirmed through fingerprints. Ng himself made no statements to police.
"He's not talking to us very much at all," Johnson said.
Northern California officials are expected to arrive in Canada today to question Ng and begin extradition proceedings. Ng will be arraigned in Calgary Monday on charges of attempted murder, unlawful use of a firearm and theft, authorities said.
The search that ended Saturday marked the second time law enforcement officials have mounted a hunt for Ng.
Born on Christmas Eve in 1961 to a well-to-do Hong Kong businessman, Ng enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1979 to avoid paying restitution in a hit-and-run auto accident case. Two years later, he led three other Marines in stealing grenade launchers and assault rifles from a Hawaii military armory.
He fled Hawaii for California and met Lake, a former Marine, through a classified ad in a survivalist magazine.
FBI agents traced Ng to Lake's then-home in Philo in Mendocino County and arrested both men. Ng was sent to the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., but Lake posted bond and fled, first to San Francisco and then to Wilseyville, to a cabin owned by his ex-wife and her parents.
After he was released from prison in June, 1984, Ng rejoined Lake, who was living in Wilseyville under the name of his friend Charles Gunnar, one of the people now missing and believed dead.
Little is known of the pair's actions until June 2, when Ng tried to steal a vise from a South San Francisco lumber yard and fled, leaving Lake behind and beginning a police investigation that unearthed allegations of mass murder.
When police took Lake into custody, they discovered he had been driving a car belonging to a San Francisco man who had been reported missing in November.
Because of Ng's past association with Lake, San Francisco police officers went to his home in the city and waited, but Ng did not return.