Police capture escapee


The final edition of The Evening Sun Thursday incorrectly identified Commissioner of Pretrial Detention and Services LaMont W. Flanagan, who oversees the Baltimore City Detention Center for the Maryland Department of Safety and Correctional Services.

The Evening Sun regrets the errors.

One of two prisoners who police said used a 70-foot rope fashioned from bedsheets to break out of the Baltimore City Detention Center yesterday was captured in a northeast Baltimore rowhouse today.

Edward G. Cooper, 32, whose last known address was in the 800 block of N. Broadway, was arrested, Maryland State Police said.

He was taken into custody shortly before 10 a.m. in the 3400 block of Ravenwood Ave. by members of a multi-jurisdictional task force of city police and other law enforcement officers.

Details of his arrest were not immediately made public.

The task force -- formally called the Maryland Joint Violent Crime Fugitive Task Force -- consists of city police officers as well as officers from Baltimore County, Maryland State Police and the FBI.

Mr. Cooper had been in the detention center since April in lieu of posting $180,000 bail, awaiting trial on charges of armed robbery and assault.

Members of the police task force were still searching for the other man, John A. Wagner, 21, of the first block of S. Monroe St., who had been in the detention center for nearly a year on charges stemming from the armed robbery of a business. He was being held in lieu of $150,000 bail.

The escape took place early yesterday. The escapees used two 8-inch hacksaw blades to cut through a metal grille surrounding their 100-bed dormitory wing at 531 E. Maidson St., officials said. The escapees then walked across a 3-foot-wide catwalk, broke the wooden frame of one of the floor's least secure windows and lowered themselves onto Constitution Street, using an elaborately braided bedsheet rope that state corrections officials exhibited during a news conference after the escape.

State Corrections Commissioner LaMont W. Flanagan, who oversees the former City Jail for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said he was certain that other inmates hoarded pieces of their sheets to help in the escape. An internal affairs investigation is being conducted, he said.

Mr. Flanagan ordered extra fortifications to the Jail Industries Building, where the escape occurred. He requested 2-foot-high steel plates welded to the security grilles surrounding all dormitories in the building to prevent prisoners from cutting through the grilles without being seen.

Steel window guards were also installed on two third-story windows, including the window through which yesterday's escape was made.

In addition, light switches on catwalks around the dormitories in the facility were also altered so that the lights could not be turned off, Mr. Flanagan said.

Following the escape, M. Kim Howard, president of the Maryland Correctional Union, which represents about 1,500 correctional work ers, criticized the state correctional department for under-staffing of officers at the facility.

Ms. Howard said she had been told by union members that one officer was charged with monitoring two 100-bed dormitories at the Jail Industries Building.

"Inmates don't care about wire," Ms. Howard said. "They'll cut themselves and go across. The only thing that can keep them in is an officer."

Mr. Flanagan declined to discuss staffing levels.

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