Navajo Nation police Sunday halted the search for two men suspected of killing a police officer, despite finding "productive information" over the past seven days.

The physical and financial demands of the 24-hour-a-day operation have stretched the limits of tribal resources, Navajo Nation police Chief Leonard Butler said."This doesn't mean we're giving up. This doesn't mean we're defeated," he said.

The tribe may resume the search in about a week. Butler said he would know more later this week, after talking with tribal administration, from whom he has requested additional funding.

Saturday night's efforts, however, may have produced more leads than seen by any other agency that has had a role in the six-week-long manhunt for Alan "Monte" Pilon and Jason McVean, the two Coloradans who allegedly shot and killed a Cortez, Colo., police officer May 29.

Three seven-member SWAT teams worked a four-mile stretch of the San Juan River bottom jungle of trees and bushes Saturday night, with two search dogs picking up fresh trails, Butler said.

The overnight efforts also produced something police haven't had before - two full footprints. Up until now, police have been working off partial prints left by the fugitives, whom officials believe have been trying to thwart trackers by walking on the sides and balls of their feet.

But police now have two plaster casts of full footprints taken from a fresh trail near the river. Police believe they now have one full print from each fugitive, Butler said.

Just before midnight Saturday, at least one SWAT team also heard a single gunshot, which police said they suspect may have been a signal either between fugitives or between the men and someone outside the river bottom who may be assisting them, police said.

Butler believes the weeklong search has given his teams a "good understanding of the nature of the two fugitives that we're after."

"They are still in the canyon," Butler said with confidence. "I am optimistic that with the information we have that we will be able to find them again."

Catching the fugitives is a different matter, however. In the interest of safety for both officers and the fugitives, Butler has been waiting for an ideal moment for capture.

In his mind, that moment would come when officers could completely surround the two men and catch them off guard. So far, that moment hasn't presented itself. Each time officers have been close, once as near as 25 yards, the fugitives have vanished in the underbrush.

Pilon, 30, Dove Creek, Colo., and McVean, 27, Durango, Colo., have evaded police since the manhunt began when they fled Cortez after shooting and killing police officer Dale Claxton. The men, along with Robert Mason, 26, also of Durango, led a chase across the Four Corners area, surfacing June 4, near Bluff, 25 miles north of the Utah-Arizona border. At one time more than 400 officers from 51 different federal and local law enforcement agencies were involved in the search.

Mason was found dead June 4 after firing upon a local resident and shooting and critically wounding a San Juan County deputy sheriff.

Until last week, Pilon and McVean had only been spotted once, June 28, in Montezuma Creek. Navajo police patrolmen and SWAT teams, however, have seen them on five of the past seven days.

Calling off the search Sunday was also a matter of safety, Butler said. Officers are exhausted from pulling 20-hour shifts in scorching heat in rough and rugged terrain. One officer was treated for minor injuries early Sunday and another suffered a serious allergy attack, police said. Others are just weary, covered in bug bites and scratches from the thick vegetation.

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And while Butler acknowledged the fugitives must also be suffering from the conditions, he didn't want to try to continue to press his crews in hopes the fugitives would run out of steam first.

"I have a limited number of SWAT teams and I would like to have those people with the specialized training take the lead role in the investigation, rather than put in patrol officers and others without the training who might get hurt," Butler said. "Right now, my guys need a rest. They need to go home and do their laundry and see their families."

Butler said he planned to share new information gathered over the past week with the FBI and other local agencies that have shared in the search.

"I think it will be useful to all agencies," he said.

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