Search continues for murder suspect


pate photo

Leon County Sheriff Kevin Ellis speaks with reporters during a press conference on December 2.

    The past two weeks have seen Buffalo flooded with out-of-town law enforcement officers and even a few news vans after the report that suspected murderer Colt Morgan, wanted for the murder of his girlfriend near Houston, was loose in town and had been in an altercation with local police.

    Morgan was traced in Buffalo after he borrowed a cell phone from a worker at Gilliam’s and used it to call his father. On Saturday, November 23, police officer Steven Pate approached the suspect when he spotted him near Gilliams Grocery. During the interview, the suspect fled and assaulted the officer by head butting him, but only after Pate was able to knock the suspect’s gun away from him. Several groups were brought in, including search dogs, to find the killer, but were hampered by the rain and freezing temperatures.

    “I wasn’t able to come to school because the dogs were in my yard and the police told me to simply stay inside, lock the doors, and call for my Grandma to come home from work to secure the yard,” senior Erica Rios said. “It was crazy because my Grandma had three guns loaded in each room and had other weapons within reach at all times.”

    The search went on for several days. Leads poured in from citizens who thought they spotted the man, but all attempts to find him came up short. Without a capture, citizens remained uneasy.

    “When I first found out about the killer, I was really scared,” senior Jessica Presutti said. “It is crazy that he has been able to get away so many times and it is really making the whole town scared and thinking that they are seeing him when they aren’t.”

    After finding a makeshift campsite made of trash bags, duct tape and twine along the railroad tracks on the south end of town that is suspected to belong to Morgan, officers with the US Marshals, Texas Rangers, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, local game wardens and local police spent much of the holiday week searching, finally getting a helicopter in the air for a search on Tuesday. Although there have been numerous reported sightings and a number of burglaries that have been attributed to Morgan, it cannot be confirmed whether he is still in the area or not.

    “We are following up on any leads and information that we’re getting from citizens saying that they’ve seen this guy,” Leon County Sheriff Kevin Ellis said. “We’re just going to continue to follow up on any leads we get until we determine he’s not in this area or until he’s captured.”

    Investigators discovered the suspect has been burglarizing buildings and vehicles in the Buffalo area. Cash and credit cards were stolen out of vehicles at Tiger Mart. Several vehicles were broken into at Ridley Block as well where a safety emergency kit and poncho was stolen. Morgan is believed to still be in possession of a red four-wheeler, sleeping bag, and possible cold weather gear.

    “He is looking for clothing, money, and food when these burglaries occur,” Sheriff Ellis said.

    A press conference was held on Monday, December 2nd at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office where authorities updated the media on the manhunt for Morgan. They also released the police cam of Pate’s attempt to take Morgan into custody back on the 23.

    “Officer Pate caused Morgan to lose his weapon so he was able to protect the citizens of Buffalo,” Buffalo Police Chief Lance Pavelka said.

    Rios said that she can’t believe they haven’t found him yet.

    “They found his shelter practically right in my backyard and then searched by air which made me trapped at home again,” Rios said. “I didn’t think it was going to be that bad because Sunday night they blocked off my road completely and wouldn’t let anybody in or out, so I was stuck at my aunt’s overnight, but the search got more in-depth.”

    Authorities cannot be sure if Morgan is still in the area or not, but warn citizens to continue to be cautious and aware of their surroundings.

    “Morgan is considered to be a very dangerous fugitive that is likely armed,” Sheriff Ellis said. “Everyone needs to be very cautious; just be aware of your surroundings. If anything has been tampered with, any barns, anything like that, don’t approach him, just call Leon County Sheriff’s Office and we’ll come and check it out.”