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4th Bank Slaying Suspect Arrested

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4th Bank Slaying Suspect Arrested


News Police Reporter

The manhunt for the fourth and final suspect in the slaying of Ypsilanti police officer Douglas Downing ended this morning in Detroit Recorder's Court.

Detroit Police from the 10th Precinct arrested Ronnie McCullough, 27, of Detroit, about 10:15 a.m. today when he appeared in the courtroom of Recorder's Judge James Del Rio for a hearing on an earlier charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

Fred Goedtel, bank robbery supervisor in the FBI's Detroit office, said McCullough may not have known he was being sought by police in connection with last Friday's bloody holdup of the National Bank of Ypsilanti. 300 E. Michigan Ave.

"He may have thought he was home free,” said Goedtel. "There were two officers waiting for him when he showed up at court so he apparently didn’t know we were looking for him.”

Ypsilanti Detective Sgt. Daniel Heliker. who is leading the investigation of the bank robbery that left officer Downing and a suspected bandit dead, drove into Detroit this morning with four other Ypsilanti officers to question McCullough. 

But Detroit Police Lt. Ronald Richer said McCullough may not be turned over to Ypsilanti Police until Wednesday. Richer said his men want to hold onto McCullough until tomorrow so that he can appear at another court hearing on a possession of heroin charge.

Ypsilanti Police Chief E. K. Dethloff said he hopes the suspect will be returned to Ypsilanti as soon as possible to be charged with felony murder in Downing’s death.

A wounded suspect in that slaying was arraigned Monday afternoon as he lay in bed at University Hospital.

Gerald Hughes, 31, of Detroit, is confined to the hospital in Ann Arbor under police guard while he recovers from gunshot wounds in his abdomen and elbow. Surgeons who operated on Hughes for five hours Friday evening have decided that the bullet lodged near his spine will not be removed until he is stronger.

Fourteenth District Judge Thomas F. Shea of Ypsilanti took his court to Hughes' hospital room about 4 p.m. Monday — some six hours after Shea had arraigned Hughes' brother. Howard, who is held in the Washtenaw County Jail without bond.

Shea told Gerald Hughes that he is charged with felony murder — that is, a murder which occurs during the commission of another felony offense such as bank robbery.

When the wounded Hughes told Shea he couldn’t afford an attorney because he had no income, the judge appointed the Public Defender's Office to represent Hughes at a preliminary examination in the case scheduled for Thursday.

Shea told The News he realizes that Hughes won't be out of the hospital by then, but he hopes to meet with Hughes' attorney on Thursday to discuss when the examination might actually be held.

No bond was set for Hughes, who remains in fair condition at the hospital, where police have him under tight security. A hospital spokesman said this morning that police had asked that no information about Hughes be given out to the public.

The two Hughes brothers are accused of taking part in the murder of Downing as the patrolman walked through the rear door of the bank during a holdup in progress there.

Downing was shot three times in the chest. It is believed that Downing wounded Gerald Hughes during a struggle. Authorities believe that Hughes and possibly McCullough may both have shot the officer while Howard Hughes waited in a car outside.

A third bandit inside the bank — James Gant Jr., 48, of Detroit — was shot to death by Ypsilanti patrolman Ronald Pfeifer as he fled out the front door with a gun in his hand.

Authorities think it was McCullough who fled on foot in the area around Ecorse Road and Parkwood Avenue, where the bandits' getaway car crashed with police in hot pursuit.

Both Hughes brothers were quickly captured, but the fourth man managed to escape even after he was stopped and questioned by an Eastern Michigan University security officer who was aiding in the search of the area.

The officer released the suspect after being convinced by the man that he had not taken part in the bank robbery and shoot-out.

But before he was released, the man gave the officer who stopped him a Blue Cross identification card bearing McCullough's name.