GA apartment residents recognized AL escapee from the news

Published: Nov. 22, 2017 at 10:19 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2017 at 7:27 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - More details are being released following the capture of an "armed and dangerous" Alabama jail escapee who was captured in the Atlanta area late Tuesday night.

The manhunt for Coosa County Jail escapee Shane Vernon, 27, ended around midnight, capping several days of searches as the fugitive racked up a long list of offenses in a crime spree that started Sunday.

Vernon was taken into custody without incident around midnight Tuesday in Dekalb County, Georgia. The Dekalb Police Department said they received a tip about Vernon near an apartment complex in Decatur, Georgia around 10 p.m eastern time.

Dekalb police say Vernon was going door to door attempting to sell clothing to residents.

"When he knocked on one particular door he was recognized by a viewer of the news," said Major R. Johnson, with the Dekalb Police Department.

A witness who lives at the Aspen Woods Apartments, who didn't want to be identified, said Vernon had acquired new clothes, shoes, and jewelry as he traveled from Alabama to Atlanta, and was attempting to sell those items to make some fast cash. When he knocked on their door, they immediately recognized Vernon's face from the news.

"We looked him up and it was him, and we called police," the eyewitness said.

WSFA 12 News obtained copies of the calls to 911 dispatch. The eyewitness' son was on the recording.

When the operator answered, he described Vernon's appearance, "It's the guy that escaped from the prison." When the operator asked how long ago Vernon was spotted, he responded, "About seven to 10 minutes ago, and I just saw the news."

The caller established what Vernon was wearing, and that he had a bag of items he was attempting to sell.

Another call to dispatch stated Vernon had a solid black pistol and was wearing a bullet proof vest.

"He matched the description of a person who escaped from Alabama, he was on the third floor balcony," explained Johnson. "They located a firearm on him, as well as some marijuana and a hypodermic needle. All his avenues of escape had been cut off."

Officers said Vernon gave them a false name and date of birth, but they were able to quickly identify him as an Alabama fugitive wanted by multiple agencies.

The eyewitness says she was confident when placing the call to 911 because Vernon wasn't attempting to cover up he was a felon on the run.

"He was telling them he escaped from prison in Alabama, and he had a gun and a bulletproof vest," the eyewitness stated. "He was tired of running, and he didn't know where he was going."

Johnson credits the callers with stopping Vernon from offending again

"If he wasn't successful in selling these items, he was going to do the next thing he knows to do and that's make someone a victim," Johnson said. "It's always a relief [to get a fugitive off the streets]. These people are desperate, they will hurt someone if they get caught.  He tied a family up and stole their car."

Officers arrested Vernon without incident. Now they are working to determine whether he committed other offenses in Georgia.

"We are checking with other metro agencies, we are trying to work backwards to find his trail along the way," Johnson said.

Vernon faces a litany of charges in multiple jurisdictions. In Georgia, he faces four local charges including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of marijuana - less than an ounce, open container and giving a false name.

In Coosa County, Sheriff Terry Wilson says there are six warrants signed for the escapee for the crime in Rockford, including second-degree escape, two counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree imprisonment and one count of first-degree theft of property.

The Elmore County District Attorney's Office says Vernon faces three counts of first-degree robbery, two counts of first-degree burglary and one count of first-degree kidnapping.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Vernon will face a federal charge under the Fugitive Felon Act since he crossed state lines to avoid prosecution. Other federal charges could also be forthcoming.

"The U.S. Marshals would like to thank all agencies that assisted in the search of this fugitive," said Deputy U.S. Marshal Dante Gordon. "The public can rest better over the holidays knowing that this dangerous man is back behind bars."

After escaping from the Coosa County Jail on Sunday, his second escape from that facility since late October, authorities said Vernon tied up an elderly couple in their home in Rockford, stealing their car and guns.

Monday he tied up a young family at gunpoint inside their home in Titus, stealing cash and their silver van. That van was later abandoned about seven miles away at the home of yet another victim.

Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin said Vernon kidnapped a Wetumpka man from his home on Bradley Road, stole the victim's car, and drove to Douglasville, Georgia, outside Atlanta, where he abandoned the victim and the car. The victim was able to safely make it to a police station.

This is Vernon's second escape from the Coosa County since late October.

He escaped on Oct. 29 by forcibly removing his restraints and running while being booked into the jail. His freedom was short lived after that escape, however, with recapture happening the next day.

Sunday's escape was more complex. According to the sheriff, he escaped out a door a corrections officer failed to secure, then used a maintenance area to bypass four other security doors before fleeing the grounds. An internal review of the officer's actions is underway.

There was no word if Vernon will waive extradition and when he will return to Alabama to face prosecution.

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.