Escaped inmate caught at mother's house 12 hours after fleeing courthouse in downtown Houston: HCSO

Lileana Pearson Image
Friday, June 14, 2024
Escaped inmate caught at mother's house in E. Harris Co.: Officials
Nigel Thomas Sanders was caught at his mother's house in east Harris County about 12 hours after he escaped the downtown courthouse. His mother and sister are also charged.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- An escaped inmate who authorities say also tried to carjack a district attorney's office employee at knifepoint was caught early Friday morning, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said.

At about 3 a.m., Nigel Thomas Sanders, 35, was captured at his mother's home in the 1400 block of Force St. by the Violent Offenders Fugitive Task Force in east Harris County, according to authorities.

There is no threat to public safety, the sheriff's office said, adding that Sanders will face new charges of aggravated robbery and escape for Thursday's incident.

Sanders is not the only person who will be charged. ABC13 learned two more people, identified as Sanders' mother and sister, were arrested.

Kathryn Dianne Sanders, 53, and Zana Tyler, 27, are both charged with hindering the apprehension of an escaped inmate.

The sheriff's office said during an update Friday morning that Sanders resisted arrest, so officials deployed a Taser and took him into custody. He's being treated at the hospital.

Authorities added that they received multiple leads, and several law enforcement agencies were involved in searching addresses for the suspect.

Sanders' capture on Friday marked the end of a 12-hour search for a man who authorities considered dangerous.

HCSO Assistant Chief Philip Bosquez said it all started around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, when the sheriff's office received word of an escape.

Charging documents show a peace officer with the sheriff's office saw surveillance video of a man walking out of an unsecured entrance wearing an issued jail uniform, prompting the shutdown of the jail complex.

An inmate count uncovered Sanders was missing.

Bosquez said Sanders, who has a lengthy criminal history, was in court for three burglary counts and an unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon charge. After his hearing, Sanders was on his way to the jail when Bosquez said he "facilitated" the escape, even though HCSO didn't mention specifics.

According to charging documents, Sanders climbed into a hole in the drop ceiling of a tunnel where inmates walk to and from court hearings at 1301 Franklin, which is the building adjacent to the criminal courthouse.

Records show Sanders left a trail in the tunnel of his orange slippers and other clothing, indicating his path of escape.

Sanders got to the building's sallyport, where an employee was getting into her vehicle. Bosquez said he then jumped in and held her at knifepoint. The woman crashed into several cars, and Sanders took off on foot again.

Bosquez told Eyewitness News that Sanders got ahold of the knife outside of jail.

Charging documents show that a custodian for 1301 Franklin and 1201 Franklin had items missing from the breakroom .

Investigators believe Sanders found the breakroom on his way out of 1301 Franklin and took the employee's black hoodie and the pocket knife he allegeldy later used in the assault, according to documents.

Records show that the weapon was left on the ground at the scene.

The University of Houston-Downtown earlier issued an alert to students and staff, warning them to "get indoors immediately," "lock outside doors," and "avoid windows." UHD later said there was no longer an emergency, and the situation was cleared.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg also confirmed that the employee, held against her will, works in her office.

"We are thankful and grateful that she was not physically harmed during this incident," Ogg said. "Once he is arrested, we expect to prosecute this defendant and seek justice in this case."

After the attempted carjacking, Sanders jumped into nearby Buffalo Bayou, wearing his jail-issued black shirt and orange pants.

ABC13 is told Sanders has associates in the Cloverleaf area, where he was found.

Eyewitness News is working to learn details on how Sanders was able to escape.

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