Updated: October 15, 2019 09:21 AM
Created: October 14, 2019 07:27 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — This story starts with a jailhouse phone call from Brandon Burgess, the man who led police in the Finger Lakes on a 24-hour manhunt last month. Burgess also forced two school districts to lockout and one to close after we alerted police to a vague threat Burgess made in a phone call to our newsroom.
On Monday morning, Burgess picked up the phone in the Ontario County Jail and called us again.
Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "Why exactly did you decide to call us this morning?"
Brandon Burgess, in jail on robbery charge: "Because I'm sick of my picture floating around on the news looking like a psychopath."
Burgess is talking about his mug shot from the Ontario County Sheriff's office. He says the sheriff's office refused to take a second one.
Burgess got on our radar in September when he called our newsroom and warned that something big in Lyons, Wayne County was going to happen the next day.
We immediately alerted the Wayne County Sheriff. Less than 24 hours later, Burgess' truck was found tipped into the Erie Canal in Lyons, a 7-11 in Phelps, Ontario County was robbed, schools in Lyons and Newark were in lockouts, and Burgess was missing.
"A complete freakshow," Burgess called himself on a YouTube video he produced in early September. "I'm not afraid to show anybody I'm not because I can't be caught."
In the videos, he goes on and on about disappearing, never to be found. But the day after the robbery, Burgess was caught and charged with robbing the 7-11.
Brean: "What happened inside the 7-11?"
Burgess: "I robbed the store. I mean, what do you mean?"
Brean: "Well I just, why?"
Burgess: "I don't know. I blacked out. I went to the store to get a snack. I went and parked out back and I took a little nap. When I woke up I was walking through the door with that gun."
Burgess told me he walked out with $60 and cigarettes.
Brean: "Can you explain those videos you made that we were able to watch, where you say things like "I promise you that what I'm about to do you will not catch me again? Not ever. Come and find me. Good luck." Can you explain those videos?"
Burgess: "So what I was going to do is I was on my way to the Thousand Islands. I did not plan on robbing that gas station. I stopped at that gas station to get a snack and a drink. I was going to disappear. I was going to come up missing."
Burgess: "Because people wanted me gone. People didn't want me around. That's how I felt. I felt like everybody wanted me gone. So I just left."
Ontario County District Attorney Jim Ritts told me an evaluation determined that Burgess is "unfit to proceed" with his case because he either can't understand his charges or assist in his defense right now.
Ontario County Sheriff Kevin Henderson told me Burgess never complained to him about the mug shot and department policy is to only take one.
I emailed Burgess' lawyer and am waiting for a reply.
During the phone call, Burgess said something curious.
"You guys know what I was doing because you were following me around the country," he told me.
He went on to say that a reporter "started my story back in Rhode Island talking about my artist management and how I'm trying to start my show 'Universal Swag' that was going to be launched on MTV in 2022."
We contacted the NBC affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island and found the story. It showed how Burgess was spray painting his car to prepare it for his pilgrimage to Area 51 in Nevada.
In the story, Burgess was asked why he was doing it.
"A good time. And to get my name out there because I'm a universal person," he said.
Two weeks later, Burgess was on the run in the Finger Lakes wanted for robbery.
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