Con­victs on loose af­ter dar­ing es­cape

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Don Bab­win and Michael Tarm

CHICAGO — Two bank rob­bers were on the run af­ter us­ing a knot­ted rope or bed sheets to es­cape from a fed­eral prison win­dow high above down­town Chicago early Tues­day, a week af­ter one of them made a court­room vow of retri­bu­tion.

The es­cape oc­curred some­time be­tween 5 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. when the in­mates were dis­cov­ered miss­ing, Chicago Po­lice Sgt. Mark Lazarro said. Hours later, what ap­peared to be a rope, knot­ted at six-foot in­ter­vals, could be seen dan­gling from a win­dow of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter ap­prox­i­mately 20 sto­ries above the ground.

Joseph “Jose” Banks, 37, and Ken­neth Con­ley, 38, had been wear­ing pris­onis­sue or­ange jump­suits, but now might be wear­ing white t-shirts, gray sweat pants and white gym shoes, Lazarro said.

The FBI said the men were last seen to­gether in the Tin­ley Park area, about 25 miles south­west of Chicago, and that they should be con­sid­ered armed and dan­ger­ous.

SWAT teams stormed a Tin­ley Park home early Tues­day af­ter­noon, but the es­capees were not there, FBI Spe­cial Agent Frank Bochte said. He said there was ev­i­dence the two had been there ear­lier, and au­thor­i­ties were us­ing dogs and he­li­copters to search var­i­ous places in the Chicago area where the two had con­nec­tions.

Banks is de­scribed as a black man, 5-feet-8, weigh­ing 160 pounds. Con­ley is de­scribed as white, 6 feet tall, weigh­ing 185 pounds.

The men ap­par­ently de­scended from a thin win­dow barely half a foot wide on the flat south side of the prison into the al­ley be­low. The wall faces a park­ing garage and is above air con­di­tion­ing or heat­ing units.

Crowds of peo­ple gath­ered out­side the build­ing where the ropes still blew in the breeze, shak­ing their heads in dis­be­lief that some­one could have es­caped from a lockup in the heart of down­town Chicago, just a block or two from key fed­eral court and of­fice build­ings.

The own­ers of sev­eral small shops across the street from the wall said they didn’t see any po­lice ac­tiv­ity un­til around 8:30 a.m., when a dozen or more po­lice cars and SWAT teams rushed into the area. Some po­lice of­fi­cers sprinted for a nearby sub­way en­trance.

Banks, known as the Sec­ond-Hand Ban­dit be­cause he wore used clothes dur­ing his heists, was con­victed last week of rob­bing two banks and at­tempt­ing to rob two more. Au­thor­i­ties say he stole al­most $600,000 and that most of that is still miss­ing.

Af­ter U.S. District Judge Re­becca Pallmeyer con­victed him, he said he would “be seek­ing retri­bu­tion as well as dam­ages,” the Chicago Sun­Times and Chicago Tri­bune re­ported.

Con­ley pleaded guilty last Oc­to­ber to rob­bing a Home­wood Bank of nearly $4,000.

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