GREENE COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Since 9 p.m. Tuesday night, dozens of law enforcement officers have been searching a three-mile radius around the Greene County Jail for escaped prisoner Eric Washington.
A state police helicopter has been searching from the sky since Tuesday evening, while police K-9s are hunting for Washington on the ground. Now, the U.S. Marshals are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his capture, and the U.S. Marshal Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force is now assisting, Marshal Marty Keely says.
Meanwhile, residents of nearby Eutaw are scared and upset.
“I am just frantic, this is a small town and this is scary–just scary,” Eutaw native Katherine Sanders said. Sanders has lived in Eutaw near the county jail for 45 years. She says she’s never seen anything like this before. She thinks one of her relatives may have seen the escapee in her neighborhood.
“My cousin who lives on this backstreet behind says she saw him walking across the grass in an orange suit,” Sanders said. “And so I locked up everything–I was really scared.”
Sheriff Joe Benison says Tuesday night, Washington escaped custody from an officer by using a homemade knife. He then grabbed the keys and broke out of the jail. Local schools were put on lockdown.
“He overpowered a corrections officer,” Benison said. “We will look into it and we will go from there and we will look at the tape and visualize what happened and what occurred and through our investigation.”
Eric Washington was convicted a week ago for the attempted murder of a Greene County deputy. Washington was serving a 30-year sentence. He fired seven shots at the deputy’s car in June 2015. The officer was not seriously hurt.