Armed and dangerous escapee on the loose

December 1, 2009 6:39:24 AM PST
He pretended to need a wheelchair, somehow got a gun while in handcuffs and managed to escape Monday morning. Now, a man considered armed and very dangerous is on the run. The massive manhunt around Baytown now includes police officers guarding schools. Arcade Comeaux, Jr., was convicted of attacking children and even his wife. And he's now armed and on the run. Comeaux was being taken from Huntsville to Beaumont when he pulled out a gun in Conroe and ordered the officers to drive to Baytown. That's where he got out of the van and where the search teams were stationed all day Monday.

"The offender fired a shot inside the transport vehicle and at that time, he took the transport vehicle over," said Jason Clark with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Eventually, Comeaux is said to have ordered the guards to stop in Baytown behind a library. There, police say, he ordered the guards to remove his shackles. They were handcuffed. One of their uniforms, along with both of their weapons, were taken.

The pair kicked out a window to call for help, but Comeaux was gone on foot, all the more surprising because he had spent his prison life in a wheelchair.

"What kind of question does that raise about medical testing?" we asked Clark.

"Certainly that's something we're going to look into to see why this offender was able to flee on foot when he was supposed to be confined to a wheelchair," Clark answered.

Much of Baytown spent Monday on lockdown, including schools and street blockades with armed troopers. Bloodhounds were brought in to search neighborhoods. Homeowners suddenly found they had to stay home.

"It's frightening. It's very frightening," said Baytown homeowner Neda Davis. "And when they say locked down, you know, you think about it. You can't go out and that's when you want to."

SWAT teams remained on duty Monday into the evening. State agencies, U.S. marshals and area police are also assisting, even as the Texas Department of Criminal Justice investigates how such an improbable escape could take place.

"What went wrong here and determine how this happened and to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Clark. "But our priority right now is finding this offender."

MORE ABOUT COMEAUX

According to prison officials, Comeaux was serving a life sentence for indecency with a child, aggravated sexual assault and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Comeaux is described as a black male, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. A command center has been set up at Highway 146 and I-10, which is where Comeaux was last seen. Anyone who believes they see him should call police immediately. Do not try to apprehend him on your own.

"Beyond the crimes for which he was serving, certainly an escape is a desperate act," said Michelle Lyons with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "It should certainly be assumed that he is going to do whatever he can to avoid being taken back into custody."

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Comeaux has been in and out of the Texas prison system for the last three decades. He was originally sent to prison in 1979 on three 10-year sentences for rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child and burglary of a building, all in Harris County. He was released on mandatory supervision in 1983. His supervision was revoked and he returned to prison in 1984 with a new charge of indecency with a child in Harris County, for which he received 20 years.

Comeaux was released on mandatory supervision in 1991 and returned later that same year. He was paroled on at the end of 1993 and, as a result of a parole violation, was sent back to prison in 1994. He was again paroled on in 1996, but returned to prison in 1998 with a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault in Brazoria County.

This isn't Comeaux's first time in trouble while in custody. Back in 1999, prison officials say he stabbed his wife during a visit. They say he pinned her against a wall and began to stab her with a handmade metal object. A prison visitor who tried to come to her aid was also stabbed. Both Comeaux's wife and the other visitor sustained injuries, but survived the attacks. For those two attacks, Comeaux received two additional life sentences.

Crime Stoppers will be taking tips on Comeaux's location. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. You could be eligible for up to a $5,000 reward.


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