Nearly-newlyweds arrested after Hague shooting manhunt

April 28, 2017 06:14 PM

QUEENSBURY -- The subjects of a state police manhunt were spotted by a police investigator while trying to get their marriage license. The couple was wanted after a Tuesday robbery at a rural Adirondack general store where the store owner was shot four times and left for dead.

Vittorio Campano, 25, and Christine Tomko, 27, both of the town of Thurman, faced a judge Friday morning in Queensbury town court to each be charged with first degree robbery and second degree attempted murder.

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New York State Police say they're the ones who held up the Hague General Store and left four bullets in the owner, Jim Rypkema, late Tuesday afternoon. Police say they got away with an insignificant amount of cash. The troop commander says there's no way they weren't going to be caught.

"You don't commit this type of crime, in this kind of area, in the middle of the day, and think you're going to get away with it," said Captain Robert Patnaude, Acting Troop G Commander. 

Hague is a town on the shores of Lake George. The population was just shy of 700 the last time a census was taken. Most of the homes are seasonal. This crime worried the residents who live there full time. That includes nearby general store owner Sal Santiniello.

"I'm glad Jim is going to be okay. Law enforcement did a really good job, it didn't take them too long to wrap it up. That means a lot. The longer it goes, the more you start to second-guess yourself and start to worry who might be next," said Santiniello, Silver Bay General Store owner. 

Tips started rolling in immediately. Police even got video of the getaway car from a business in town.

That's how an off-duty state police investigator recognized the Pontiac Vibe at the Queensbury town clerk's office as the couple tried to officially tie the knot Thursday.

The assistant district attorney said in court on Friday that police have a taped confession from Campano. Plus, troopers say they recovered five long guns and three handguns from the couple's place in Thurman. Troopers say that includes the .22 handgun used in the shooting.

Campano had no criminal record, he also didn't have a job. His public defender told the court he had recently moved to Thurman after living with his mother in Orange County for three years.

The only brush in with law enforcement, was when Warren County deputies were called to their Thurman house on a noise complaint for shooting guns last week.

Warren County Sheriff Bud York says it's good they were caught now.

"It's like sticking your hand in the cookie jar and getting away with it. These folks would've shot some other people. They would've done some other robberies, guaranteed," said York.

State police found items in that shed they think could be from other robberies. So this, could be the violent end, of a crime spree. 

Bail was set at one million dollars for each Campano and Tomko.


Asa Stackel

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