DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – An inmate at the Frank Crowley Courts Building took advantage of an emergency evacuation and simply walked away.
A water pipe burst in one of the electrical rooms on the first floor and shorted out the security systems, including the fire alarms and sprinklers. Power was also knocked out to all elevators and escalators.
Officials decided to err on the side of caution and evacuated all citizens and employees.
“The water went into the security panels, so we made the decision to clear the building because we can’t be informed if there’s an emergency going on,” said Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.
Trustee inmates were brought in to help clean up the 1-3 inches of water. It was then that one of those inmates, Juan Ramires, escaped.
“We had a water pipe that broke here in the building, down on the first floor, and we had some of the inmates assisting with the cleanup. And he just got the urge to walk out of the facility,” explained Carmen Castro with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department.
Ramires was in jail on a misdemeanor charge. Castro said warrant officers are currently out looking for the 17-year-old.
Thursday afternoon sheriff’s deputies could be spotted searching parking lots and public areas in downtown Dallas looking for Ramires. Sheriff Valdez said when he escaped he was still wearing his black and white striped jailhouse uniform.
The Frank Crowley Courts Building sustained heavy water damage and could take a few days to dry out. Currently, only emergency personnel are being allowed onsite.
Late Thursday afternoon it was decided that the building would also be closed to the public on Friday, March 9.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said he hopes the building will reopen Monday. He said a replacement panel will have to be shipped in overnight from out-of-state.
Price said as long as the alarms are off, security and deputies will be circling the building on a “fire watch” to ensure safety.
The closure does not affect the George Allen Civil Courts Building and Lew Sterrett Complex. Anyone with jury duty at those locations is still required to report at those facilities.
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