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Prisoner Escape

Lowndes County Law Enforcement agencies rushed to the area surrounding The Columbus Fairgrounds early Friday night to track down an escaped fugitive who had just been arrested for Grand Theft Auto. Mario Sykes, 30 yrs old, escaped from a moving Sheriff’s cruiser and led authorities on an hour long manhunt through southeast Columbus.    Lowndes County Sheriff’s and Columbus Police had been on the lookout for Sykes since he stole a 2008 Dodge Charger from a family friend on February 19th. The Charger had been seen in and around Columbus in recent weeks, but investigators began to close in on Sykes after a shoplifting call came in Friday morning around 11:00am involving the fugitive.     Police were called to Wall’s on 18th Ave. N. around 10:50am after Mario Sykes allegedly ran out of the store with a bag full of clothing. Sykes then made his way to the Wal-Mart parking lot, where he “conned” a woman into giving him a ride to his car(the stolen Charger) which was parked somewhere behind McDonald’s on Hwy 45. Sykes reportedly threatened the woman saying he had a gun, but she managed to escape her car and call police.    Columbus Police officers swarmed to the intersection of 18th Avenue and Hwy 45 and began to search area businesses trying to find Sykes and the stolen car. A BOLO (be on the look out) was called over the radio for a four door Black Dodge Charger with a large scratch down the passenger side. [I thought I remembered the same car being involved in a gas drive-off the night it was stolen, but Columbus Police could not immediately confirm the incident. I remembered the call coming in for a Charger with a scratch down the side leaving the gas station on 13th and Main- CK]     Police gathered information from the woman who gave Sykes a ride and another set of gentlemen who saw him near Wendy’s, and then proceeded back to Wall’s. A felony warrant was issued after Columbus Police realized that the shoplifting charge was Sykes’ third, which results in an automatic felony charge. Lowndes County Sheriff’s were notified of the incidents and immediately began to search Sykes known “hangouts”, including a home on Hwy 69 South just before Granderson Rd.     Lowndes County Sheriff’s Deputies caught up to Sykes around 5:00pm when the Charger was spotted in Caledonia on Lawrence Bridge Rd. Sykes was placed in cuffs by Deputy Darrell Nabors for the long ride down to Lowndes County Adult Detention Center on Airline Road. Nabors reportedly handcuffed Sykes’ arms behind his back, with the cuffs threaded through his rear belt loop.    Sometime around 5:50pm, just as Nabors turned onto Airline from Idlewild Rd, Nabors heard the rear window rolling down. Nabors quickly reacted and pressed the window lock button, but the window stopped ¾ of the way down. [I have learned that some of the newer cruisers have functional windows in the rear of the car, and that they are occasionally unlocked when certain smells are left by certain guests of the Sheriff’s department. The button that locks the windows is on the driver’s side armrest. Sources told me that since the incident Friday, authorities have fixed the cars so it will not be possible at all to roll rear windows down except from the front of the car. The majority of Sheriff’s cars were already equipped so that the windows could not be rolled down from the rear.-CK]    Deputy Nabors brought the car to a halt about 1/6 of a mile West of Idlewild on Airline Rd. just as Sykes reached through the window and pulled the door handle open. Sykes ran east on the north side of Airline with Nabors in foot pursuit. Sykes crossed over to the south side of Airline and entered the woods as Nabors radioed in for assistance. [Sykes has a rather “lanky” build, with a long upper torso. I think that probably helped him move his handcuffs to the front of his body during transport. After looking through my pictures from his arrest, I noticed his rear belt loop was broken as well. The call for an escaped prisoner came over the air at about 5:55pm-CK]     Area law enforcement agencies swarmed to the surrounding area, quickly setting up a perimeter from the Lux Bridge on Airline, down the riverbank to the water treatment facility, east down Airline and south down Idlewild to West Yorkville Road. More than 20 cars from the Lowndes County Sheriffs Dept., Columbus Police, Metro Narcotics, Columbus Fire, Mississippi Highway Patrol and Wildlife and Fisheries responded and were stationed within 10 minutes of the initial call. [As I drove to the scene, I noted one patrol car on each bank of the Lux, Nabors car was near the Justice Court Bldg., another Sheriff’s car by Sykes entry point, and two more on the corner of Idlewild and Airline. Turning down Idlewild, I noted 4 sets of police cars on the road about 300 yard apart, and at least 5 more patrolling the Fairgrounds and other businesses. On Yorkville I noted the Highway Patrolmen, Wildlife and Fisheries and Metro Narcotics units. The speed in which the perimeter was established was pretty impressive-CK]       Columbus Police DICE team member William Thrasher parked on the railroad tracks on Idlewild, and immediately radioed in that he had a visual of the fugitive. Thrasher chased Sykes down the tracks toward the Lux before Sykes took a sharp southbound turn into the woods behind the Pigfest shacks in the rear of the park. Thrasher warned Sykes to stop running as a CPD dog was on his trail. Wade Beard and his K-9 dog Body were in hot pursuit of Sykes.     Mario Sykes then jumped south over the creek that travels east to west and feeds into the Luxapalila, eluding Officer Thrasher. Sykes made it about 100 yards before he was seen by DICE Officer Stephen Kemp.

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