Three escaped inmates captured in Atkinson Co. - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Three escaped inmates captured in Atkinson Co.

(Source:  Atkinson County Sheriff) (Source: Atkinson County Sheriff)

By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

ATKINSON COUNTY, GA (WALB) - An intense overnight search paid off in Atkinson County.

Three jail inmates who climbed a barbed wire tower at the Atkinson County jail and escaped are back in custody.  Sheriff David Moore says recent budget constraints made their escape possible.

"It's very rare that we have an escape here," says Chief Deputy Eugene Paulk.  "I think the last one was three or four years ago."

Thursday night, around midnight, Eleazar Gomez, Gaspar Tolentino, and José Luis Torres slipped out the laundry door when the jailer stepped away.  They scaled a tower covered with barbed wire, and then jumped from the roof to the cement sidewalk below.

Just minutes later, a Pearson police officer patrolling nearby found an orange jumpsuit laying on the road.  After the jumpsuit was discovered, a head-count took place at the jail, and the jailer discovered the three men had gone missing.

"At 4 o'clock this morning, we found their trail," says Sheriff David Moore.  "We followed them, and ended up at a house."

That home belongs to a relative of Tolentino.  The three inmates were there, and took off running to a nearby pine plantation, where they were later apprehended by a K-9 Unit.

Sheriff Moore says because their small jail is overcrowded, they must leave the laundry door open so the surplus inmates have access to a bathroom.  The sheriff wanted to invest in a roof-top sensor alarm system, but had to choose between that or more deputies.

"Have a full staff of employees, or do I push the security system off another year?" says Sheriff Moore.  "You know, I chose feet on the street instead of a security camera."

The Atkinson County Sheriff hopes more funding becomes available so choices like that are no longer necessary.

Ironically, an immigration hold on one of the escapees, José Torres, had been dropped yesterday.  Torres was unaware of this when he escaped.  Deputies say he would have been released from jail on Saturday.

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