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Handcuffed fugitive captured after halting New York subways

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A handcuffed teenage fugitive was captured by New York police on Monday six hours after he escaped custody by knocking over a detective and fleeing into the city's subway system, forcing a partial shutdown of four train lines, officials said.

What seemed to be a routine arrest turned into a frantic manhunt when Vincens Vuktilaj, 17, broke free upon being led out of his Harlem apartment Monday morning.

Vuktilaj is suspected in five attacks on elderly women in Upper Manhattan last month, including an April 16 robbery of a 93-year-old Harlem woman who had two gold chains ripped from her neck while standing in her driveway.

He knocked down a detective and fled, moving so fast that he ran "right out of his shoes" before descending into a Harlem subway station, a New York police official said.

Vuktilaj was arrested hours later upon exiting a subway station one stop away, police said.

After he had broken free, power was cut to four transit lines between Midtown and Upper Manhattan as police searched for Vuktilaj, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman said. The shutdown lasted nearly 90 minutes.

Thousands of passengers were stuck on subway platforms as authorities prowled the subterranean tunnels, hunting for the teenager.

One train was trapped between stations when power was shut and a "rescue train" was sent for the 515 passengers, said MTA spokeswoman Marissa Baldeo.

Vuktilaj was arrested last Friday and charged in two attacks, and was later released on bail, according to a police news release.

He was being re-arrested on Monday on grand larceny charges after investigators turned up new evidence against him, the police official said.

Vuktilaj was uninjured, police said. No further information about the capture was immediately available.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Daniel Trotta, Leslie Adler and Steve Orlofsky)

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