Escapee thought to be downtown

James Sanders

MONCKS CORNER -- A Berkeley County jail inmate whose charges include criminal domestic violence escaped Thursday afternoon and may have hitched a ride to Charleston.

The Sheriff's Office took the inmate's girlfriend into protective custody while they track him down, spokesman Dan Moon said.

James A. Sanders, 39, of Cypress Campground Road in Ridgeville, was jailed in August on charges that included criminal domestic violence and violating a restraining order. He was being held on $42,500 bail.

Sanders had a court hearing Thursday on the restraining-order charge and was sentenced to time served. He was to go back to jail to await a court hearing on the criminal domestic violence charge. He managed to escape around 3:30 p.m. How that happened is not clear and is under investigation, Moon said.

Officials alerted residents of the escape by telephone, through the county's "reverse 911" system.

Berkeley High School was on lockdown briefly, but by 4:30 p.m., students were released and had left campus.

It's possible, though, that Sanders is no longer around Moncks Corner, Moon said. Officials got a tip that Sanders flagged down a motorist about 6 p.m. and got a ride to near the Medical University in Charleston.

Sanders is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall with dark hair. He was wearing a white shirt, blue shorts and no shoes when he escaped.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly characterized the relationship between Sanders and his girlfriend.