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All 6 inmates back in custody

Monday, February 13, 2006
Daily Southtown
by Abdon M. Pallasch and Natasha Korecki

The remaining three inmates who escaped from Cook County Jail over the weekend were taken into custody early Monday after an hours-long standoff with police at an apartment in Cicero ended in their surrender.

Francisco Romero, 23, of Chicago, and fellow escapees Tyrone Everhart, 28, of Markham, and Eric Bernard, 22, of Chicago had been holed up on the first floor of the three-flat apartment building along with a woman and her children since late Sunday, according to Cicero police spokesman Dan Proft.

Romero was the first of the three fugitives to come out of building on the 1300 block of 59th Ave. in the western suburb. He did so peacefully at around midnight, Proft said.

Everhart and Bernard also came out quietly along with the woman and one of her five children, but not until about 3 a.m., according to Proft.

"They came out all in a row," Proft said, "along with the child."

No shots were fired and no one was injured. It was unclear whether it was a hostage situation or whether the woman was aiding the men, Proft said, adding that no demands had been made.

The escapees were being transported back to Cook County early Monday. The woman, who is believed to be an acquaintance with at least one of the men, was also taken into custody, Proft said.

Four of the woman's other children, who had initially been inside, got out of the home without incident, according to Proft. Two of the children inside left the building with Romero, and two others "were released" about 45 minutes apart between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., he said.

Proft said the situation began when police received a 911 call about 9:15 p.m. from someone on the scene identified as a friend of the woman who lives in the apartment. Police surrounded the building, and communication with the escapees began when one of the fugitives called the Cook County sheriff's police, according to Proft.

The children, most of whom were believed to be "pre-adolescent," were being held in protective custody, according to Proft.

Pages to a representative from the sheriff's police were not returned early Monday.

Alleged ringleader blocked

Area police captured three more of the six men Sunday. A seventh never made it out of jail.

Sunday's mass escape was the third in 10 months after 10 years without a single escape, and it "makes me sick," Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan said Sunday, shaking his head outside the jail. He plans to retire this year after 16 years as sheriff.

"Never trust an inmate," Sheahan said. "One person by himself -- that should never happen. He should not have gone in there by himself."

The elite Special Operations Response Team is supposed to have three guards on duty at all times in the SI2 Special Incarceration Unit, formerly known as the ABO -- the Abnormal Behavior Observation unit, reserved for the "worst of the worst" -- violent prisoners, those who have already attempted escape.

But in apparent violation of internal rules, Sheahan said, one guard apparently went into the unit alone and took off accused murderer Patrell Doss' handcuffs and leg irons so Doss could take a shower. Doss threw a blinding substance in the guard's face and overpowered him with a homemade knife, jail sources said.

Doss opened the cell gates, and six of the other 15 inmates joined him in the escape. Doss took the guard's uniform, badge, ID and keys. He handcuffed the guard into a cell in his underwear. Other inmates set fire to a mattress and cut off the electricity.

Another guard outside the door heard what he thought was a colleague, dressed in special operations team black, holding his badge up to the thin window in the door and yelling for help because there was a fire. When the second guard opened the door, seven inmates overpowered him and used the keys to escape.

Ironically, guards slammed the door shut in time to trap alleged ringleader Doss. The other six escaped early Sunday, just after midnight.

Once outside, they took advantage of a chink in the jail's armor. Most of the jail is surrounded by a high concrete fence topped with razor wire. But Division One has a low chain-link fence with barbed wire that angles out -- apparently to keep would-be vandals away from judges' cars in the court parking lot -- instead of angling in to keep prisoners in.

Tyrone Everhart, of Markham, had been moved to the high-security division two months ago by his estranged father, the jail's Capt. Tyrone Everhart. The elder Everhart had seen a letter his son sent to the son's girlfriend asking her help to escape from the Markham lockup.

Guards called 'complacent'

Two months ago, Tyrone Everhart broke free of security during a courtroom hearing, ran out of the Markham Courthouse and nearly to the street, Capt. Everhart said. Two officers tackled him, but at one point he took out a razor and cut his throat, he said.

The inmates were able to escape Sunday because the guards were being "complacent," Capt. Everhart said. This incident came hours after police caught a man who escaped Friday.

Richard Remus, a former SORT leader accused by some inmates of leading a mass beating in this unit six years ago, is running for Cook County sheriff. He said inmates have set at least half a dozen fires in the last six weeks.

"They're timing the response and seeing how many officers show up. They do a head count," Remus said. Last year, guards seized sketches of the jail's layout in the same unit, he said. Other guards agreed that administrators should have seen this coming.

2 caught in Oak Park

About 6 a.m. Sunday, Oak Park Police dispatcher James Falkman spotted two men who fit the descriptions of David Earnest, 38, of Chicago, and accused armed robber Arnold Joyner, 43, of Princeton Park. Joyner nearly escaped a month ago. After a short chase, both men were arrested. Joyner had called his mother to tell her he escaped, authorities said.

Police from around the area descended on Oak Park as the men initially told the officers that all six escapees hopped a Union Pacific freight train to Oak Park. Sunday morning brunchers in Oak Park wondered why police had streets blocked as a Chicago Fire Department helicopter whirred overhead.

But Earnest and Joyner eventually told sheriff's police they were the only ones who hopped the train.

On Sunday night, Chicago Police picked up Michael McIntosh, 30, of the South Loop, in a residence at 106th and Aberdeen. He is charged with aggravated battery from an attempted robbery of a Homewood currency exchange. This was his second escape attempt in a year.



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