Investigations underway in Ohio prison escape
LIMA, Ohio (AP) — Criminal and internal investigations were underway Friday to determine how three Ohio inmates including a convicted killer of three students were able to escape from prison during recreation a day earlier.
The state prisons agency also said outside experts will review the agency’s procedures and recommend possible improvements.
The three prisoners were being held in a protective control unit that had been cited for security issues in a recent report, and the escape came a day after prison officials apparently foiled an escape plan by another inmate from the same unit.
The three escaped prisoners, including convicted Chardon High School shooter T.J. Lane, were recaptured by early Friday morning.
All three were transferred later Friday to a high-security prison in Youngstown in northeastern Ohio.
“They should’ve been watching him more closely,” said Morten Pederson, 42, of Chardon, the community stunned by Lane’s shooting of three high school students in 2012. Pederson has two children in the district.
The three inmates scaled a fence to a roof over an entry building at 7:38 p.m., immediately sounding an alarm, the state said.
A prison guard chased and caught one inmate, Lindsey Bruce, immediately. Lane, 19, was caught only about 100 yards from the prison by two state troopers at 1:20 a.m. Friday after a police dog located him, the state said.
The third inmate, Clifford Opperud, was caught at 4:20 a.m. after an infrared camera led officers to his hiding area under a boat at a residence and a police dog found him, the state said.
One inmate was put in segregation when an escape plan was discovered on Wednesday, the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association said in a statement. That inmate was housed in the same unit as the three who escaped the following evening, and prison officials didn’t take additional steps to secure the unit, the union said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said in an email that the segregated inmate “has nothing to do with the escape.”
Lane’s brief taste of freedom frightened residents in Chardon, the community nearly 200 miles to the east where Lane fatally shot three students and wounded two others and then further angered people with defiant behavior in court. At his sentencing hearing last year, Lane unbuttoned a dress shirt to reveal a T-shirt scrawled with the word “killer,” similar to a shirt he wore during the shootings on Feb. 27, 2012. He cursed and made an obscene gesture as the judge gave him three consecutive life sentences.
School officials canceled classes Friday.
“It’s a trigger,” district spokeswoman Ellen Ondrey said of the escape. “It takes everyone back to 2/27 and what was happening that day.”
The escape occurred at Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution, a minimumand medium-security prison in Lima, about 80 miles south of Toledo.
Lane was housed on a “protective control” unit, a higher security setting than the main compound, according to a legislative prisons oversight committee statement Friday.
A fence surrounds the perimeter of the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 in Lima, Ohio. T.J. Lane, a teenager convicted of killing three students at an Ohio high school, climbed over a fence Thursday Sept. 11, 2014 to escape the state prison with two other prisoners. He was caught nearly six hours later early Friday as he hid by a nearby church, in Lima.