6 inmates escape from the Cook County Jail
February 12, 2006 (WLS) -- Six men escaped from the Cook County Jail Saturday night. Authorities say they overpowered a guard and stole a set of keys then apparently scaled a jail wall and ran to freedom. Three have been caught, but three are still on the run. One of those men is an accused killer. A seventh inmate who initiated the escape was caught before making it out of the jail.
Officials say the men should be considered dangerous. If you see them call 9-1-1 immediately.
The thrid man was captured on S. Aberdeen in Chicago late Sunday night. A spokesperson for the Cook County Sheriff's Department says that inmate is beleived to be 30-year old Michael McIntosh who was facing charges of aggravated battery. Two other escapees were captured in Oak Park early Sunday morning. The Cook County Jail remains on lockdown.
Here's what we know about the escapees who are still at large. 23-year-old Francisco Romero of Chicago. He's charged with murder. Police say Romero allegedly shot and killed a 12 year old boy on the city's southwest side back in 2001. The boy was shot in the back of the head while hanging out with friends.
Also on the run is Eric Bernard, 22-years old of Chicago, who is charged with armed robbery.
The fourth escapee is 28-year old Tyrone Everhart of Markham. He is charged with aggravated kidnapping and attempted escape from the Markham courthouse.
The inmates who escaped were being housed at division 1, a tier for very, very difficult individuals. Individuals who would get into fights with other inmates and also guards.
"For 10 years we never had an escape. In the last 10 days as far as I'm concerned, it makes me sick," said an angry Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan. It was the second escape from the jail in two days. Six inmates, including two charged with murder, overpowered guards and escaped early Sunday morning sparking a massive manhunt and intense internal investigation.
"I support our people. I'll back our people. But if they're wrong, we will take the necessary steps," Sheahan said.
Another inmate initiated the escape as he was being taken to the shower. Using a handmade knife, he overpowered the one guard escorting him, handcuffed him to jail bars before stealing his keys and freeing the others. The six then jumped a fence on to 26th Street at the maximum-security area where many of the guard towers are not manned 24 hours a day.
They made their way out to Oak Park and according to one of the individuals; two of the six separated from the other four at Ridgeland Road.
"Joyner who has been charged with parole violations and Earnest who has been charged with murder, were captured within hours after an off-duty police dispatcher noticed them and called 911.
As soon as I pulled up, he basically quit running, told him to put his hands up. He put his hands up and he was completely compliant, I guess," said Oak Park Police officer Dawn Carver.
The village of Oak Park remained on heightened alert for hours as miles away in southwest suburban Burr Ridge it was mistakenly thought a third escapee was captured around 8:00 Sunday morning as he walked along a frontage road.
"He refused to answer any questions and based on the description the officers had they placed him into custody and brought him in," said Tim Vaclav of the Burr Ridge Police Department.
The escape is the latest of several security breaches at the jail. Officials say understaffing, not overcrowding is the problem. As late as December 2005, jail officials say a federal judge who oversees overcrowding in jails ruled Cook County Jail needs 700 more guards. They currently have 2700 to oversee an average of 11,000 inmates. Sheahan says the issue is not an excuse for not doing the job right.
"You would never take a person and let him shower by yourself. That is number one. I have not been able to talk to all the investigators and find out the entire investigation, but that is number one, especially in that tier," Sheahan said.
As the manhunt continues, the investigation does as well. Guards are being spoken to as well as inmates and anyone who may have been complicit in this escape.
Meanwhile, most folks know that Michael Sheahan is retiring as Cook County Sheriff. That means during the election this most likely will become a hot campaign issue.
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