Hunt for escapee intensifies
An intensive search continued late Wednesday in the Sangaree area near Summerville for an escaped Berkeley County prisoner.
Deputies responded immediately earlier in the day when sightings were reported of James A. Sanders, 39, who escaped last week, Berkeley County sheriff’s spokesman Dan Moon said. He said sightings of Sanders have been numerous and are continuing to come in.
“We are following up lead after lead after lead,” Moon said.
The earliest reports Wednesday had Sanders in the Farmington Road area, and then in the Sangaree Parkway Boulevard/Royle Road area. Witnesses reported Sanders was wearing a gray hoodie, red shirt and dark pants, Moon said.
Authorities set up perimeters around the neighborhood and checkpoints at roads and intersections. A helicopter searched from the sky as vehicles were being checked at Royle Road and Sangaree Parkway Boulevard, and at intersections on North Main Street (U.S. Highway 17A), Moon said.
Deputies were seen riding in streets and scanning the neighborhood with searchlights. A day care center reportedly was put on lockdown during the afternoon.
Moon said deputies from Charleston and Dorchester counties, Summerville police and tracking dogs joined the Berkeley County Sheriff’s
Office in the manhunt.
“We have the place ringed,” Moon said. “We feel that he’s in this area and are actively searching for this guy.”
Sanders, of Cypress Campground Road in Ridgeville, is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall with dark hair. Authorities think he has shaven his goatee but kept his mustache.
Sanders was jailed in August at the Hill-Finklea Detention Center in Moncks Corner, on charges that included criminal domestic violence and violating a restraining order. He has been on the run since Jan. 26.
That day, Sanders was sentenced to time served for violating a protective order. Correctional officers began preparing Sanders for release without realizing he still faced the criminal domestic violence charge, the Sheriff’s Office said.
From a pre-release room for inmates, he slipped out a back door about 3:30 p.m., and about 15 minutes later hitched a ride from a man who didn’t know he picked up an escapee. The man later told authorities he drove the man to downtown Charleston. Sanders was seen around the Medical University of South Carolina around 6 p.m. that day.
The Sheriff’s Office said procedures at the Berkeley jail have been changed to make sure inmates can’t leave the same way.