Task Force K-9 Puts Bite On Fugitive

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Gila County Sheriff's Office K-9, Rusty, is being credited with apprehending a fugitive wanted on numerous counts of probation violations and possession of dangerous drugs.

After Rusty and his handler Deputy Dennis Newman helped collar 21-year-old John Ferraro Feb. 21 in Pine, the fugitive was charged with escape. He could face additional charges of resisting arrest, GCSO Det. George Ratliff said.

Following Ferraro's apprehension, he was treated for a dog bite and transported to the Gila County jail in Payson.

According to Ratliff, the arrest came after deputy George "Ski" Kerszykowski, who was patrolling the area, came across Ferraro working to free a truck stuck in the mud.

"When the deputy approached him, (Ferraro) gave his name as that of a different man," Ratliff said.

Since the suspect had "John" tattooed on his arm and that wasn't the name he gave, the deputy continued to question Ferraro.

Convinced Ferraro wasn't the person he said he was, Kerszykowski was preparing to arrest the suspect when he pulled himself free and took off on foot, Ratliff said.

The deputy immediately began chasing Ferraro through a residential area near Old County Road in Pine.

According to Ratliff, during Kerszykowski's chase he came across a mobile home with its lattice work around the foundation pulled free.

Based on that evidence, the deputy suspected Ferraro was hiding under the mobile home.

Ferraro, however, could not be seen because he had curled up in a hole under a porch, Ratliff said.

Newman, Rusty and at least one Department of Public Safety officer were called to help with the search.

"When Rusty went under (the mobile home), the deputies could hear him growling," Ratliff said.

Deputies believed Rusty bit the suspect under the house.

After being pulled out by Rusty and deputies, Ferraro continued to insist on the veracity of his earlier identification.

"He even gave a correct date of birth," Ratliff said.

At PRMC, however, some hospital employees were acquainted with the man who Ferraro claimed to be.

"They knew the guy and said that wasn't him," Ratliff said.

Newman and the K-9 are assigned to the Highway Interdiction branch of the Gila County Narcotics Task Force.

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