MILTON, Fla. (Reuters) - The hunt for a Missouri couple suspected in a spree of robberies and kidnappings across the South ended on Friday with the man shot dead and the woman wounded after a chase, standoff and shooting involving law enforcement in Florida, police said.
Blake Edward Fitzgerald, 30, and his girlfriend, Brittany Nicole Harper, 30, dubbed a "modern-day Bonnie and Clyde" by the U.S. Marshals Service, were wanted for crimes committed during the past week in Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
Deputies in the Florida Panhandle began pursuing the couple Thursday night after they were linked to an armed robbery at a shoe store, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan told reporters at a news conference.
The chase lasted several hours as the couple successfully evaded officers. After midnight, authorities learned the duo had taken a family hostage in their home before stealing their red truck, Morgan said.
Deputies cornered the couple in the truck soon after, and a 15-minute standoff ensued, the sheriff said.
Refusing to surrender, the suspects left the truck and tried to enter an occupied home in Milton, Florida. Gunfire erupted, killing Fitzgerald and wounding Harper in the leg, said Morgan, though he would not specify who fired the shots.
Six officers have been placed on administrative leave according to protocol as state investigators review the shooting.
Harper was hospitalized and will be charged with grand theft auto, home invasion robbery and false imprisonment, a Florida prosecutor said.
Morgan said the couple's actions should not be glamorized with a catchy nickname.
"Bonnie and Clyde were a couple of thugs, too," he said.
The marshals service said the couple began a crime spree spanning three states on Sunday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where they were accused of kidnapping a hotel clerk and stealing his car.
They later released the hostage and ditched his vehicle before Fitzgerald entered a family's home in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, flashed a gun and took a woman at the residence hostage as he stole the family's car, federal authorities said.
The couple was then suspected of kidnapping a clerk from a convenience store that they robbed in Perry, Georgia, on Monday, and committing two more robberies in the Florida cities of Walnut Hills and Destin on Wednesday.
The marshals service had offered a $10,000 reward for their arrests, describing them as armed and dangerous.