Three 16-year-old inmates, including one facing a capital murder charge, escaped a juvenile detention center in downtown Houston early Sunday morning after one of them allegedly assaulted an officer and stole his keys.
Tom Brooks, executive director of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, said during a news conference Sunday that the escape occurred just after midnight when one of the inmates, Alferis Coby, asked a supervision officer for toiletries just after midnight.
"He got the officer to open the door," Brooks said, adding that Coby "beat him down pretty badly."
NBC affiliate KPRC reported that the guard, who was not identified, suffered a black eye and required stitches on his face.
Coby took the officer's keys and cell phone and freed two other inmates — Jahrell West and an unnamed juvenile — Brooks said. They were able to exit the detention center through secure areas, he added.
Brooks said that court decisions certified the two named inmates to be tried as as adults; West is facing a aggravated robbery charges.
The third inmate, who has also been charged with robbery, is still being tried as a minor.
Brooks said the officer, who he did not identify, had been released from the hospital.
Citing an ongoing investigation, he said it was unclear why the officer opened Coby's door alone; protocol requires guards to open cell doors in pairs.
No inmate has escaped the detention center in the nine years it has been open, Brooks said.
The three inmates, who were still at large, were wearing white shirts and khaki pant, he said.