Police believed the subject of an Egg Harbor Township manhunt Thursday was prepared to shoot someone — even a police officer — before he headed back to court next week, according to a flier distributed to law enforcement.
Donald Capriotti, 40, has spent about half his life in jail, court records show, dating to a burglary charge when he was 19. He was freed from prison in May 2012, after serving nearly 19 years of a 30-year sentence for killing a man in 1993.
The convicted killer had pending drug, gun and assault charges when he allegedly fled a car stop Thursday near the Travelodge on the Black Horse Pike in West Atlantic City. The manhunt ended with Capriotti and a township police dog wounded by gunfire.
Capriotti, who also goes by the last name Gardner, remains in critical condition and is expected to be charged with second- and third-degree aggravated assault and second-degree eluding, said Peter Aseltine, of the Attorney General’s Office. The dog, Shooter, was showing signs of recovery and doing well Friday, said his handler, Lt. Michael Bordonaro.
The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is handling the investigation because it involves the discharge of an officer’s gun. It has not been determined whether Capriotti was the one who shot the dog. No gun has been recovered, but a search continued Friday, Aseltine said.
“Capriotti has stated that he intends to shoot someone before his upcoming (court) date and would shoot police, too,” a flier first distributed Nov. 1 warned officers.
The flier, distributed by Egg Harbor Township police through a Web-based program that can specify certain law-enforcement agencies, also reveals Capriotti may be linked to an additional killing. Last month, he rented a hotel room that became a crime scene.
“He was not charged, but may have knowledge about the shooting,” the flier states. “The weapon used was never recovered.”
Capriotti allegedly rents several hotel/motel rooms at a time to distribute drugs, according to the flier.
While it does not indicate a specific homicide, a man connected to Capriotti is charged with murder in the Oct. 8 killing of Curtis Watson, 20, who was found shot to death inside a Courtesy Inn motel room in the township’s Cardiff section.
Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain declined comment. His office charged Randal Scott, 21, who lives in the township, with murder and weapons offenses in the killing.
Scott was arrested in an assault this summer at the Courtesy Inn. Charged with him were Capriotti and Capriotti’s wife, Chinyere Onuba-Gardner, 33.
The three allegedly pistol-whipped a man, hit him with a baseball bat and stabbed him with a machete in June. A few days after their July 7 arrest, Scott’s and Capriotti’s $50,000 bails were covered by the same bail bondsman at AA Bail Bonds in Trenton, courthouse records show.
The next month, Onuba-Gardner had her bail paid through the same agency under a different bondsman.
Both Capriotti and his wife also are accused in a drugs-and-guns case from January. They were due in court next week for a hearing that could have sent Capriotti back to jail. A motion by the state Attorney General’s Office was to raise his $250,000 bail to full cash. He posted bond immediately in that case, according to courthouse records, using ABC Bail Bonds.
Capriotti was last in court Oct. 11, where the proceedings were postponed, records show. The next day, Capriotti was charged with heroin possession. That bail was $25,000 with a 10 percent option. There was no information on how that bail may have been paid.
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