What to Know
- The fugitive suspected of shooting at police officers at a hospital in Ellenville, NY, appeared in federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday
- Joshua Stuart, 42, was caught Monday behind a Whole Foods supermarket in Brooklyn after a chase, officials and witnesses say
- His lawyer painted him as a heroin user going through withdrawal
The fugitive suspect wanted for an upstate New York hospital shooting who fled to Brooklyn and tried to rob a store clerk at gunpoint was charged with that armed stickup in federal court Tuesday, authorities say.
Joshua Stuart, 42, wore a plastic white suit as he was walked from a police precinct into a car to head to federal court. He said nothing to reporters about the crime spree he's accused of, which began Friday when he allegedly robbed an Ulster County hospital where staff refused to give him pain medication.
His attorney painted his client as a longtime heavy heroin user going through withdrawal.
"He's doing OK right now, but I see signs of withdrawal," said Michael Padden outside court Tuesday. "He told me he needed treatment for it."
Padden said he requested Stuart get methadone maintenance while behind bars. It's unclear whethere he'll return to federal court in Brooklyn to face charges for robbing the hospital upstate.
Court documents show he fired a gun inside the Ellenville Regional Hospital Friday, shooting out a Demerol dispenser and stealing about 17 vials of the narcotic from the hospital before fleeing in a truck. Police said he then fired at officers, then ran through the woods on foot.
While on the run, he broke into a home, stole a car and fled to Brooklyn, where he has strong family ties, according to authorities. He was spotted over the weekend in the Sunset Park and Flatbush neighborhoods -- and then on Monday, he allegedly robbed a tobacco store and a clerk in that store. He was finally caught behind a Whole Foods supermarket in Gowanus, where a security guard spotted him and called police, according to a witness.
"He was full speed, he was running for his life" in the Whole Foods parking lot when police responded, said the witness who asked to remain anonymous. Stuart then leaped into the Gowanus Canal, according to the witness.
"He jumps into the water, so as soon as he jumps in, the cops go after him and pretty much gets him right away," said the witness.
Stuart was arrested by members of the NY/NJ U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force and the NYPD. Police said they did recover a gun, and no one was hurt.
Stuart was charged with robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to police. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
Stuart has previously been arrested in a pharmacy robbery, state police said. It wasn't immediately clear whether weapons were involved in that robbery or whether he was convicted.