Rhode Island Fugitive James Morales Captured in Somerville

He escaped a detention center on New Year's Eve and was a suspect in a Cambridge bank robbery Thursday.

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Bank surveillance image via Cambridge Police


The manhunt for James Morales, the fugitive who allegedly escaped a Rhode Island detention center on New Year’s Eve and has led authorities on an all-out manhunt for five days, came to an end with a foot chase in Somerville late Thursday afternoon.

Police say they were responding to reports of an attempted bank robbery when a trooper, identified by police as Joseph Merrick, spotted Morales around Route 28 and Mystic Avenue and chased him for two blocks to Broadway near Foss Park. The trooper captured him while Morales was trying to climb a fence, police say.

“Outstanding work by all federal, local and state agencies involved in this investigation,” the Massachusetts State Police wrote from its official Twitter page. “Great cooperative effort.”

He has been taken to the state police barracks in Medford. Police say they will brief the media later this evening.

The capture brings to an end a tense search that has continued since Morales allegedly escaped the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island, stole a car in Attleboro, drove it to Framingham, and then eventually made his way to Somerville.

The search intensified around Cambridge today after an attempted robbery at the Bank of America at 772 Massachusetts Avenue at 9:30 a.m. in Central Square, the suspect for which matched the description of Morales that has been publicized all week. Police say the suspect slid a note to a bank teller, but did not walk away with any cash.

Morales used to live in Cambridge, and once worked for the city’s Department of Public Works.

In Arlington at the time, police said on Facebook that helicopters were circling the town. “Helicopters in area due to search for bank robbery suspect from#CambMA. Officials are currently searching nearby cities. Schools are currently NOT in lock down. Business as usual. We will update if we have more information.”

Law enforcement with long guns were spotted patrolling near the near the Alewife MBTA stop and adjacent bike path.

The City of Somerville urged its residents to “be on alert.” Also, school officials in that city cancelled outdoor recess for students as a “precaution” and said “there will be an increased police presence throughout the city, particularly surrounding schools.”

Escapted fugitive JAMES WALTER MORALES is in custody. Arrested in Somerville minutes ago. Developing. We will update.


“As part of this investigation, we’re running down every possible lead, working with our federal, state and local partners, Cambridge Police said in a statement. “While we do not have an identity of the suspect at this point in time, investigators are looking at the possibility that the suspect generally fits the description of escaped federal prisoner James Morales, who fled the Wyatt Detention Center last weekend.”

Police earlier described Morales as dangerous and possibly armed.

Morales had been jailed in connection to the November, 2015 gun heist at an armory in Worcester and was awaiting trial. He also faces unrelated charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a child.

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Photo via Massachusetts State Police