Three inmates were able to escape from the Orangeburg County Detention Center over the weekend after a control panel malfunctioned, causing their cells to unlock, an official said Monday.
Authorities said the inmates — who were jailed on charges ranging from carjacking to murder — then sprayed a correctional officer with Mace and accessed a control room that allowed them to open a door to the rest of the facility.
Once outside, the men scaled a fence and used sheets to get over the razor wire, Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said.
"It was a matter of minutes," he said. "They just took advantage of the situation."
Authorities on Monday continued to search for two accused killers — Tyshon Demontrea Johnson, 27, of 2nd Street in Bowman, and Curtis Ray Green, 20, of Fletcher Street in Orangeburg — following their escape shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday.
The men were originally jailed on charges of murder stemming from two separate incidents.
The U.S. Marshals Service, State Law Enforcement Division and Orangeburg Department of Public Safety are assisting the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office in searching for Johnson and Green, who authorities said are considered dangerous.
A third inmate, 27-year-old Christopher Shannon Boltin, of Edisto Avenue in Orangeburg, was captured Sunday night in Lexington County. He was originally charged with carjacking and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Boltin's father was taken into custody and is expected to be charged with providing assistance to his son after the escape, sheriff's spokesman Richard Walker said.
Young said an officer in a control room within a pod that holds around 30 inmates called maintenance when the mechanism that locks and unlocks individual cells shorted. Staff then started to move inmates back into their cells.
"They weren't rowdy or anything," Young said. "They were like, 'OK, wow. We're able to get out.'"
During that time, one inmate approached the door of the control room and told the officer he needed assistance. The officer opened the door and the inmate and three others rushed into the room and jumped him, Young said.
The inmates grabbed the officer's Mace and sprayed him in the face.
One inmate used the control panel to open a door to let them out, Young said.
Three men climbed over the fence surrounding the jail. Authorities caught the fourth inmate before he left the grounds.
In June, an inmate escaped the detention center when a locking mechanism didn't catch. The inmate pushed the door open and climbed over the fence. He was captured.
Young said a $30 million facility is under construction to replace the aging jail, which has a maximum capacity of 275 inmates. The new facility, expected to open in a year and a half, will be able to house more than 300 inmates.
Anyone with information about Johnson's or Green's whereabouts is asked to contact the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office at 803-534-3550 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.