It all began when a young, teenage, criminal escaped Melbourne city He is believed to have committed few crimes in one morning – stealing, theft, and finishing with setting property on fire to, presumably, cover his fingertips left at the crime scene. He was spotted, and a high speed police chase began, finishing with the suspect – 19 year old David Rowntree, ditching his escape vehicle and fleeing, with a shotgun in his hand.
Growing Social Concerns on Facebook
A full scale manhunt then started, for the “armed and dangerous” young man. The judge on his last trial said he was “out of control criminal, who does not deserve rehabilitation”. Extracts from his Facebook page say that “man better die standing, than live on his knees”, and as he has 69 prior offenses, and had just broken with his girlfriend, the danger was considerable. Police thought that teenager might be ready for a shootout, and were extremely cautious during the chase.
But another aspect of the case emerged during its development – fugitive’s friends expressed concerns for his safety on Facebook, thinking that their friend was intentionally demonized by the media reports, to create 15 minute sensation, on young’s man account.
The shotgun that the fugitive was seen carrying around was found in a recycle bin on his escape path. The media coverage? Well, the comment was that “he could get his hands on more firearms”. Fugitive’s friends say he had begun rebuilding his life, trying to get out of the criminal life, when his girlfriend dumped him, and few other problems made him go back to the wrong way. Portrayed best by an online buddy of David ”jus as yu were doing soo good with yurself, yu manage to go downhill all over again.”
Young man’s friends hoped police will not be pressured by the “armed and dangerous” qualifications, and use overwhelming force, because of fear for officers’ health. The manhunt continued for over 24 hours, and neared its end when the suspect asked to use a toilet in a café near the road. The owner became suspicious and later remembered the face from the news reports. He contacted the police, and a chase dog was brought to the scene. It took a heavily armed police squad to a field near Whittlesea.
David Rowntree was captured unharmed in the field, no shots were fired, and he did not resist the arrest. As police detective said “At the time of the arrest he was quite humble and mild”, so this criminal may still have a chance for rehabilitation after all – maybe 19 year old young man will behave properly, after deciding not to resist arrest. He will most probably serve time because of his crimes, but if he fails again after his imprisonment term – probably nothing more can be done.