Dubbed the “Missouri Bonnie & Clyde,” 30-year olds Blake Fitzgerald and Brittany Nicole Harper might have thought the nickname added a romantic touch to their crime spree. However, if Blake or Brittany knew anything about the real Bonnie and Clyde, they would have seen such a label as a prediction of a violent end to their story.
According to the Pensacola News Journal, the multi-state manhunt for Fitzgerald and Harper ended early Friday morning in Milton, Fla. following a week-long chase. Despite this, it’s believed the couple’s criminal aspirations took root on January 22nd.
The so-called “Missouri Bonnie & Clyde” was suspected of stealing guns from a Joplin, Mo. home with the intent of using them for robberies. Blake and Brittany reportedly first made their move on January 31. Citing AL, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the Missouri couple entered the Microtel Inn and Suites in Tuscaloosa, Ala. They claimed to have run out of gas and asked night clerk Kyle Dease for assistance. The couple then pulled out weapons and forcibly kidnap Dease. After driving around with the frighten clerk, he was later released, unharmed.
The Post-Dispatch also reported the two briefly abducted a woman following this incident; her car was stolen as a means of escape.
It’s believed based on Dease’s statement to authorities that two were hoping to get to Panama City, Fla. where they could “start over” and even get married. But first, the pair engaged in a series of robberies and kidnappings across four states (Missouri, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida) in a week-long crime spree that they somehow expected to end well. Even the true Bonnie and Clyde weren’t so optimistic near the end of their lives.
It is especially disheartening if you visit the Facebook of Brittany Harper, where loved ones pleaded with the love-struck woman to give herself up before anything truly terrible happened. Said one concerned friend, “I don’t want [you] to die… but I am afraid [you] are headed in that direction.” Another added, “Please turn yourself in. Everyone is worried sick about you. We miss you. We are heartbroken and scared for you.”
The concern of friends and family just wasn’t enough to break whatever hold Blake Fitzgerald had over the heart of Brittany Harper, who wrote a poem about their love affair.
“Hated by many
Wanted by plenty
Disliked by some
Confronted by none”
The last line would prove anything but true. The New York Daily News reports that Escambia County Sheriff deputies responded on Thursday to an 8 p.m. robbery at a Footwear store in Pensacola. Eyewitnesses said Blake held a gun on a store employee while Brittany “shopped.” It was during the act of responding to the robbery that police spotted the Missouri pair. What followed was a high-speed chase across the Florida panhandle.
The Post-Dispatch wrote that police “lost sight” of the two for a couple of hours. During that time, Fitzgerald and Harper allegedly took a family hostage and then freed them after stealing the family’s red pickup truck.
At around 12:16 a.m., deputies came across the stolen vehicle as the couple exited a rural road. Eventually, the pair was cornered, leading to a tense 15-minute standoff between the wanted duo and authorities. Unlike the true Bonnie and Clyde, Blake and Brittany were from all accounts given every chance of surrendering peacefully. There was ample time to avoid meeting the same violent end as the romanticized criminals they were named after.
However, Blake Fitzgerald had no interest in returning to prison — as victim Dease shared with authorities — and this fact couldn’t be made any clearer than by what he did next. During his final getaway attempt, Fitzgerald was said to have used Harper as a “human shield,” as he tried to break into yet another home. It was at this point that deputies opened fire.
The crime spree ended with blood and death, as with the real “Bonnie and Clyde.” However, there is a twist to this modern ending that perhaps few people saw coming.
The “Clyde” in this new story is as deceased as the man he’s named for, but “Bonnie” lives. The Pensacola News Journal wrote that Brittany was hit in the leg and ankle, and was “transported to Sacred Heart Hospital for treatment.” She was to be kept under guard until “healthy enough” to be placed in the Escambia County Jail.
Although authorities have yet to decide on a court date, having lived through this week-long spree of criminal mayhem, it is Brittany alone who will face a slew of charges. This includes kidnapping, home invasion, robbery, false imprisonment, and grand theft auto charges. Together, they add up to what might very long prison term for Harper.
This is probably not the end to this situation that Brittany had in mind. It’s unfortunate that some women see only the romanticized version of a “Bonnie & Clyde” style love affair. The truth is there’s nothing romantic about being gunned down by police nor in facing a series of hefty consequences for choices that did not have to be made.That aside, those who care about Brittany Nicole Harper are no doubt grateful that she was no Bonnie Elizabeth Parker in the end.
Better for her to return home in handcuffs than in a body bag.
[AP Photo/Melissa Nelson-Gabriel, Brittany Nicole Harper’s Facebook]