Four inmates from the Hastings Youth Academy overpowered an elderly guard, took his keys and radio, then made their escape by jumping over the rear perimeter fence of the detention facility early this morning, according to a media release obtained by Historic City News.
Commander Charles E. Mulligan outlined this morning’s events, culminating in the capture of the escaped juvenile offenders.
“Shortly after 12:00 midnight Friday morning, 16-year-old Ramah Devon Hicks, knocked on the door to his dorm room at the Hastings Youth Academy and asked the 76-year-old security guard to let him out to use the restroom,” Mulligan told local reporters.
When Hicks returned from the restroom, he struck the guard in the head, causing him to fall to the ground. Hicks took the guard’s keys, radio, and then he locked the guard in the dorm room. Next, Hicks reportedly let the three other inmates out; and together, they fled from the Hastings Youth Academy.
Mulligan stated that, soon after, a co-worker returned from a break, discovered that the escape had occurred, then notified the Sheriff’s Office.
The four juvenile offenders involved in this morning’s escape are identified as 16-year-old Ramah Devon Hicks, 15-year-old Michael Steven Neal, 17-year-old Kenneth Pfuntner, and 16-year-old Dominic Robert Putnam, who were all housed in a secure wing with other sentenced juvenile prisoners.
xAt about 2:45 a.m., Mulligan said that the Sheriff’s Office received a report that a 2014 GMC Sierra pick-up truck had been stolen from a residence on Cracker Swamp Road.
Deputies responding to the call observed the pick-up truck and attempted to conduct a traffic stop; however, the driver refused to stop. A short pursuit was initiated, but the chase ended after deputies deployed stop sticks and executed a PIT maneuver against the truck around SR-206 and SR-207.
“After today’s incident, all four defendants have been charged with battery on detention staff, robbery, depriving an officer of communication, false imprisonment, petit theft, and escape from a juvenile detention facility,” Mulligan said. “These four youthful offenders have been transferred to the St Johns County Detention Facility located in the Neil J Perry Criminal Justice Complex.”