Inmate captured after escape

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2000

An inmate of the Butler County Jail attempted to escape Friday afternoon, but after a brief jog in the woods, was taken back into custody.

According to Sheriff Diane Harris, Tommy Lee Pate climbed over the back fence of the jail yard at 1:35 p.m. Friday afternoon.

"Pate climbed over the fence and razor wire, cutting his legs in the process, and then ran into the woods behind the jail," Harris said. "Fortunately, we have new communications technology in Southern Linc radios, and we are all connected to the Greenville Police Department units with them.

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"I was able to put out an "all-call", and the area was immediately flooded by officers, both my deputies and City police officers," said Harris.

Pate ran into the tract of woods between the jail and Buco Meat Processing, on North Conecuh Street. He attempted to come out near the Alabama Power Company warehouse on Beeland Street, according to an unidentified eye-witness.

Clad to start with in an orange inmate uniform and red-plaid jacket, Pate quickly realized that his clothing was a dead giveaway.

Pate saw that he would not be able to come out there, and returned to the woods, along Cedar Street.

"We had officers that could hear him trudging through the woods on the north side of Cedar Street, but we called those officers out of the woods, so that the State Dog Tracking team could pick up his scent when they arrived," Harris said.

Because of cooperation between the Sheriff's Department and the Greenville Police Department, Pate was back in custody in less than an hour.

"Officers were able to capture Pate, in the edge of the woods, behind the old Foster's factory on the corner of Beeland and Thames Streets," Harris said.

"He was back in custody at 2:15 p.m., and we returned him to the jail, where paramedics were summoned to examine him for the lacerations on his legs," she said. "He had to be taken to Stabler's Hospital where he received stitches to the lacerations."

Pate, who was arrested by the Georgiana Police Department for distribution of crack cocaine, now has additional charges, according to Harris. "We will charge him with escape in the first degree," she said. "If convicted, he could receive 15 years confinement for that charge."