SNOQUALMIE, Wash. — Six teenage boys escaped from a juvenile detention center in Washington state after knocking out a female staff member, but all were captured a few hours later early Sunday in nearby woods, authorities said.
The King County Sheriff's department said it received word of the escape at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday from Echo Glen Children's Center in Snoqualmie, about 25 miles east Seattle.
"They basically attacked the staff member, knocked her out, took her keys and fled," spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West said. The teens left the woman unconscious and locked in a room at the facility, she said.
Witnesses told detectives that the staff member was beaten with a chunk of ice frozen in a water bottle, the Seattle Times reported.
"It definitely appears this was planned, the detective on the scene said when they found the boys they had their packed bags with them," West told the Times.
The six males, three 14-year-olds and three 15-year-olds, were serving time for offenses including assault, possession of firearms and burglary, West said.
Law officers on the ground with search dogs and in the air combed the area on the outskirts of Snoqualmie before a helicopter crew spotted them in woods near the center using thermal-imaging equipment, according to West. All were caught by 2 a.m. Sunday.
"The biggest reason they were apprehended so quickly was the helicopter," she said. "Without that we would have been looking for needles in a haystack. It allowed us to apprehend them before they got into the neighborhood."
Echo Glen Children's Center is a medium and maximum security facility run by the state Department of Social and Health Services. The facility is not fenced, but is bordered by natural wetlands. It provides treatment services for younger male offenders and is the main institution for female juvenile offenders, according to its website.
Calls to the facility's deputy superintendent Sunday morning were not immediately returned.
Once the teens were spotted by the helicopter, they split up into three groups and ran in different directions, West said. Deputies in the helicopter were able to direct deputies on the ground, including K-9 units, to where the teens were running or hiding.
One was bitten by a police dog while trying to escape and was taken to a hospital for treatment, West said. The others were arrested without incident and booked on charges of assault, unlawful imprisonment and escape, she said.
The staff member who was attacked lay unconscious in a locked room at the juvenile facility until other inmates found her and reported the incident, authorities said.
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