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Jailbreak reaction prompts meetings

Published May 25, 2004

LARGO - When a murder suspect escaped from the Pinellas County Jail last month, a loud siren sounded and deputies swarmed into the area. A helicopter buzzed overhead and schools were locked down.

While deputies searched intently for the escaped man, some nearby residents and business owners were unsure how to react.

At least one businessman, Jack Teague of nearby BIC Group Graphic, called the Sheriff's Office to ask what he should have done. His question prompted the Sheriff's Office to schedule two public meetings to inform folks who live or work in that area how they should respond to an escape.

"We got some calls basically from businesses and residents asking, when this occurs, what actions should they take," said Mac McMullen, a Sheriff's Office spokesman. "It got up to the command level and they decided we should entertain those questions in an open forum.

The first meeting was Mondayat 7 p.m. at High Point Elementary School, 6033 150th Ave. N. The second will be 7 p.m. June 2 at BIC Group Graphic USA, 14421 Myerlake Circle.

Murder suspect Timothy L. Humphrey escaped from the jail on April 23. He was captured about three hours later.

Residents were notified of the escape through a dialer system and media reports. The jailbreak left many rattled. Some locked their doors and checked their sheds and garages for a man.

Sheriff's officials said though Humphrey was only the second inmate to escape from the jail since 2000, they want people to know how to react.

Though the circumstances leading up to Humphrey's escape are still under investigation, preliminary reports indicate a number of procedures were not followed with Humphrey, who was being transported to the Pinellas County Jail to face a murder charge.

[Last modified May 24, 2004, 23:42:10]

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