Notorious school shooter T.J. Lane escaped an Ohio prison with two other inmates by scaling a barbed wire fence and crossing over the roof of the prison entry building despite being assigned "the highest level security grade," prison officials said today.
Lane, who was serving three life sentences for the massacre he carried out in February 2012 in Chardon, Ohio, was recaptured several hours later by a team of officers with dogs. He was only about 100 yards from the prison.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction released a timeline of how Lane, 19, and the other two prisoners were able to break out of the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution Thursday night.
The short-lived escape began at 7:38 p.m. when the group scaled the fence, which prompted the fence alarm to sound. Just seven minutes later, Ohio State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement were notified of the breach.
The three escapees were spotted by a prison staff member at 7:47 p.m. who ran after the inmates and apprehended one of them, 33-year-old convicted child killer Lindsey Bruce.
Lane was sniffed out by a police dog in a wooded area about 100 yards from the prison five hours later.
Corrections officials reported that the third escapee, Clifford Opperud, 45, was found hiding under a boat that was parked on a nearby residence. Police used a helicopter-mounted infrared camera with thermal imagery to determine where he was before sending a police dog to apprehend him.
The correction officers' guards union reported that administrators feared a break earlier this week after hearing on Wednesday that a different prisoner had an escape plan. The prisoner was put in special segregation and had previously been housed in the same unit as Lane, Opperud, and Bruce, the union said.
Lane gained notoriety for his shooting spree at Chardon High School in which three students were shot dead and three others wounded. At his sentencing, Lane shocked the victims' families and his own lawyer by unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a T-shirt with the word "killer" scrawled on it. He also spewed obscenities at the families and made an obscene gesture towards the families. When the judge sentenced him to three life sentences, Lane laughed.
His brief escape so alarmed the city of Chardon that the school district canceled classes and left the schools closed today except for those who may have wanted counseling.
The three convicts have now been sent to the Ohio State Penitentiary and will face new charges in connection to their escape though no further details have been released about the ensuing court dates.
Prison administrators appear to have had concerns about Lane.
"The severity of his crimes and threats that had been made against his life by other inmates led inmate Lane to be assigned the highest level security grade typically given to a first-time inmate, as well as a protective custody classification—the same ratings assigned to Cleveland kidnapper/rapist Ariel Castro, also a first time inmate," read the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections statement.
Castro had pleaded guilty to kidnapping and enslaving three women for more than a decade. He committed suicide in prison.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Lane had been disciplined seven times during his 18 months in prison. The incidents ranged from trying to give himself a tattoo twice to being reprimanded for urinating on a prison wall. He had recreation privileges taken away for a week or 10 days following each incident.