Searchers, who had their hopes briefly lifted late Monday when three men were stopped across the Utah border, began their fifth day Tuesday in the hunt for a trio wanted in the shooting death of a Cortez police officer.
Authorities Monday said they have identified the suspects but refused to release their names. They said two of the three had misdemeanor arrest records."In 48 hours we'll either have eliminated them as a point of focus or (named) them suspects," Police Chief Roy Lane said. "I'm not going to label someone a cop killer until I can prove he's a cop killer."
He said law enforcement officials have staked out their homes but would not say if they are from the Four Corners Area.
The three, described as white males, are wanted for questioning in the killing of Cortez police officer Dale Claxton, 45, fatally shot during a traffic stop last Friday. Two Montezuma County sheriff's deputies were shot and wounded during an ensuing high-speed chase.
Late Monday, Colorado officers' hopes were raised by a report that the Utah Highway Patrol had chased and stopped three suspects about 30 miles from the Colorado border.
One fit the description of one of the Cortez suspects, but it was determined they were not the ones wanted in that case, said Lt. Verdi White, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety. He did not say how authorities ruled them out.
In New Mexico, meanwhile, FBI agent Doug Beldon said agents were investigating similarities to the robbery of the Taos Indian Pueblo gambling casino and two bank robberies in Angel Fire, 25 miles east of Taos.
"It's very speculative," Beldon said. "It's the sort of thing we routinely look into due to a few similarities."
In Colorado, the hunt focused around Cahone, about 35 miles northwest of Cortez. Police found footprints near Cahone over the weekend and Monday discovered more tracks in the Bug Point area northwest of Cahone near Utah.
Officials have received more than 200 telephone calls on the whereabouts of the camouflage-clad suspects. But there have been no positive sightings since Friday.
"It's puzzling because all of the tracks we find just seem to vanish," Lane said.
About 200 law enforcement officers from 35 agencies from four states are involved in the round-the-clock manhunt.