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SUSPECT CAUGHT: Police Have ‘Wrong Guy’

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A Des Moines burglary suspect is caught after a long foot-chase.  But one witness says police have the wrong guy.

48-year old Billy Buffington, covered in mud, was taken from the woods and collapsed to one knee, exhausted, after leading police on a long foot chase Wednesday afternoon.

Police stopped to question Buffington, who officers describe as a known burglar, about a break in at a vacant house on East Ovid. Police say Buffington matched the description, riding a bike and carrying a backpack.  But when police approached him, that's when they say he took off.

"One of our plain clothes burglary squad officers spotted the guy that matched the description on a bicycle with a back pack at the Redwood Motel." says Des Moines Police Sergeant Debra Richardson, "He pulled up and tried to talk to him and the guy took off running."

But the neighbor who called police after witnessing the burglary says Buffington is not the guy who tried to break into the house.

A guy named Juan, who neighbors say lived in the area for a couple of months, has tried to break in several times.

"I saw Juan go on a bicycle, go up the street, then I called Des Moines police department and they come out and checked the place and it was still locked.  He couldn't get in this time.  But he's been in there several times,” says neighbor, Larry Pruitt. “This will be the fourth time they've been out here."

Pruitt says he's glad someone was arrested and some drugs were taken off the streets.  But as for this burglary, he says police have the wrong guy.

In addition to burglary charges, Buffington is charged with drug possession and assaulting an officer.