Final Captured Suspect Wears Slain Sergeant's Handcuffs

Suspect's girlfriend also faces charges

Originally Posted May 8, 2008

Philadelphia's most wanted man is off of the streets.

A tip call led police to Eric Floyd, the last of three suspects in Saturday's bank robbery and the killing of police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski.

The five-day manhunt ended overnight in an abandoned Southwest Philadelphia row house and culminated with the 33-year-old suspect being led away with the slain sergeant's handcuffs locked around his wrists.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Floyd was unarmed and did not resist. His girlfriend was also taken into custody and faces charges.

Police said Floyd made a statement and is cooperating with police.

Liczbinski, who would have turned 40 on Tuesday, was shot responding to the robbery in Port Richmond around 11:45 a.m. Saturday. The suspects opened fire after the sergeant confronted them a short distance away, shooting the officer at least five times with an assault rifle, police said.

Floyd's arrest came five days after the fatal shooting and about 36 hours before Liczbinski's funeral. Police scoured the city and investigated more than 100 tips.

The suspected gunman, Howard Cain, 33, had been shot to death by police on Saturday during a chase after the robbery. A local mosque has since refused to conduct a funeral for him.

Another, Levon Warner, 38, was arrested and charged Sunday with murder, robbery, conspiracy and related offenses.

Police said that when they stormed the boarded-up home on the 5400 block of Windsor Avenue in the city's Kingsessing neighborhood, it was pitch dark inside. There was no electricity, no candles and no flashlights.

"He was a human rat in a hole," Capt. Daniel Castro said. "The SWAT officers upstairs went up into the front bedroom and found him on the floor.

Castro was the incident commander when the tip came in before 11 p.m. that Floyd and a woman were hanging out in the home. He said he went in after homicide, SWAT and the feds had tracked Floyd there.

"And then we ordered a 24th District supervisor and a 24th District wagon to come because we wanted the 24th District to officially make the arrest. We brought the sergeant from the 24th District, I walked up to Eric Floyd, and I said, 'Eric Floyd, you are under arrest for the brutal homicide of one of our own, Sgt. Liczbinski. We have his handcuffs. We're placing them on you.' And that's when I told the sergeant, I said, 'Sergeant, arrest this individual,'" Castro said.

According to Castro, Floyd said nothing as he was brought into custody.

"His face is a face of a monster. That's what a monster looks like. It's not these proverbial monsters with hair, big claws -- that human being's a monster," Castro said.

When Floyd was taken in for questioning, the handcuffs were Liczbinski's -- a symbol of the fallen officer's last arrest.

Sources told NBC 10 the tip came from the FBI.

But Castro said credit for tracking Floyd goes to all of the men and women who have worked around the clock looking for the suspect. And he said it was a bittersweet moment when Floyd was placed in the van.

"With that, the officers were applauding," Castro said.

Floyd hadn't been changed his appearance by shaving his beard of hair. Castor said he was apparently hiding out in the house, hoping not to be caught.

Police said Floyd's girlfriend is also going to be charged.

Police identified her as Tonya Lynne Stephens, 37, also known as Juanita Stephen, of the 2100 block of Franklin Street. She was taken into custody during Wednesday night's arrest and is going to be charged with obstruction of justice, hindering prosecution and conspiracy.

Police said Stephens concealed Floyd for five days despite a $150,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

Authorities continued to hold the crime scene where Floyd and his girlfriend were captured, collecting evidence they say will help in the suspect's conviction.

A 19-year-old Harrisburg area man also faces more trouble in connection with the case.

Federal authorities said they have indicted Levi Swigart, of Duncannon, Perry County.

Swigart is accused of stealing his mother's .22-caliber pistol and trading it for crack cocaine. Investigators said that handgun was one of three weapons used in Saturday's bank heist.

Swigart faces new counts of possession of a firearm by a drug addict and transfer of a stolen weapon, each of which carries up to 10 years in prison. And if he's convicted of a third charge, possession of a firearm used in a crime, that would mean a five-year minimum mandatory jail term.

The 19-year-old will be in federal court next week for an arraignment.

Mayor Michael Nutter told a news conference early Thursday he confronted the suspect as he arrived in a van at police headquarters and voiced disappointment "as one African-American male to another."

Floyd arrived locked in the handcuffs of the slain sergeant, a 12-year veteran and married father of three who was killed with an assault weapon on Saturday, Ramsey said.

"It's a way of just paying tribute to the slain officer," Ramsey said.

Police had pursued a flood of tips for days in an intensive manhunt for the last suspect remaining at large, and Nutter said Liczbinski's wife, Michelle, was "very pleased" at news of the capture.

"We know we're a safer city because that individual, that menace to society is off the street," Nutter said.

"We cannot bring Stephen back but we can certainly bring some closure to this entire matter," he added.

Nutter said he was two feet away as Floyd was taken from the van. "I had to look in the face of a guy who would do something like that, and quite frankly as one African-American male to another, just tell him how disappointed I was in what he had done," he said.

"I looked him dead in his eye and said, 'I'm disappointed in you.' And then I asked the officers to take him away," Nutter said. "He had no reaction. He was caught."

Officials said earlier a reward for information leading to the arrest of Floyd had grown to $150,000. Ramsey said Thursday he didn't know yet who might receive reward money.

Nutter and other officials had urged Floyd to turn himself in and warned that anyone who helped him would also be prosecuted.

Ramsey said officers had been on edge since Liczbinski was shot. In an incident two days later, video taken by a television news helicopter showed three suspects being kicked, punched and beaten after they were pulled out of a car following an unrelated shooting.

Officials said more than a dozen officers would be taken off the street as authorities investigate, and Ramsey said police needed to maintain a high standard of conduct despite the tensions.

City and state officials called Thursday for Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, an impassioned plea delivered as the police department prepared to bury Liczbinski who was killed by a high-powered rifle.

The ban that had been enacted in 1994 was not renewed after lapsing in 2004.

Nutter said last weekend's "assassination" of Liczbinski, who was shot at least five times by a Chinese SKS rifle was "truly shocking."

"We all know that he did not stand a chance," said Nutter, speaking at a City Hall news conference.

At Thursday's news conference, Nutter and Gov. Ed Rendell released a copy of a letter they sent to members of the state's congressional delegation asking for the federal ban on assault weapons to be reinstated.

"Passing this legislation will go a long way to protecting those who put their lives on the line every day for us," Rendell and Nutter wrote. "There is no excuse to do otherwise."

Ramsey, who also attended the news conference, bristled when told that some gun-rights organizations dispute whether the SKS rifle qualifies as an assault weapon.

The gun inflicts wounds so devastating that it should be considered one, Ramsey said angrily.

"Then add it to the frickin' list!" he said to sustained applause from officials and other police officers.

Floyd's arrest brought a sense of ease to the Port Richmond neighborhood where Liczbinski was fatally shot Saturday.

Before the arrest, a tension bored into the close-knit neighborhood, but early Thursday, the winds of change blew through the corner of Almond and Schiller streets, the spot where the officer was fatally shot. 

Throughout the night, people stopped at a neighborhood shrine dedicated to the slain sergeant.

Although many neighborhood residents never met Liczbinski, they remembered him, the man some of them held as he lay dying in the street after being shot with an assault weapon.  He asked the strangers to tell his family he loved them.

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