1 inmate who escaped Ark. jail captured

Authorities say they've captured the leader of a white supremacist gang who escaped


Associated Press

UPDATE 11:32 a.m. (PST):

Authorities say they've captured the leader of a white supremacist gang who escaped from an Arkansas jail earlier this week.

In this undated booking photo provided by the Jefferson County, Ark., Sheriff's Office, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 shows Wesley Gullett. (Jefferson County Sheriff's Office via AP)
In this undated booking photo provided by the Jefferson County, Ark., Sheriff's Office, Wednesday, July 31, 2019 shows Wesley Gullett. (Jefferson County Sheriff's Office via AP)

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in eastern Arkansas says Wesley Gullett was captured Thursday in Pope County in western Arkansas. That's about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Pine Bluff, which is home to the Jefferson County Detention Center where Gullett and inmate Christopher Sanderson escaped earlier this week.

Spokeswoman Allison Bragg says Gullett was arrested by Dover police, but she did have not any details of what led to the capture.

Sanderson remains at large.

Original story below. 

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — The leader of a white supremacist gang and another inmate may have escaped from an Arkansas jail more than a day before anyone noticed, authorities say.

Wesley Gullett and Christopher Sanderson were still on the run on Thursday, three days after they were last seen at the Jefferson County Detention Center and a day after jailers realized they were missing, Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. said.

The men were last seen in the jail at around 8:30 p.m. Monday, but it wasn't until 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday that officials noticed they were missing, even though Woods told the Pine Bluff Commercial that several other inmates tried to escape Tuesday but were quickly captured after a drone spotted them on the roof.

Maj. Randy Dolphin, the sheriff's office operations commander, told The Associated Press on Thursday that investigators still don't know whether the two were gone all day Tuesday from the roughly 300-inmate jail in Pine Bluff, which is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Little Rock.

Dolphin said jailers are supposed to conduct the checks three times every 12-hour shift.

Gullett and Sanderson put padding in their bunks to make it look as if they were asleep, then climbed onto the jail's roof and over a fence to escape. Jailers doing head counts are supposed to physically confirm that inmates are in their bunks if they don't see movement, but they didn't do so, Woods said.

"I'm going to be honest with you, it comes back down to complacency, comes down to just being lazy and not paying attention to what we're doing. And so at this point, we're handling that internally with our staff," Woods told Little Rock television station KATV.

Gullett, 30, is among 54 members of the New Aryan Empire who have been indicted on federal charges and is listed in court documents as the gang's "outside" president who oversaw all gang activities by members who weren't in prison. Prosecutors say the gang has about 5,000 members.

Sanderson, 34, was being held on federal gun and drug charges.

Prosecutors say the New Aryan Empire began as a prison gang in the 1990s but now engages in drug trafficking, witness intimidation and acts of violence, including attempted murder, kidnapping and assault. Indictments were originally returned in 2017 accusing 44 members of the gang with drug and gun crimes, but additional members were named in February for alleged involvement in violent crimes committed by the group.

Gullett's attorney declined to comment on Wednesday.

Gullett is accused of attempting to kill Bruce Wayne Hurley, of Atkins, who told law enforcement about an associate of the gang's drug dealing. Hurley was shot dead at his home in May 2016, but the indictment doesn't say who authorities believe killed him.

A magistrate judge in March rejected Gullett's request for a temporary release to attend his father's funeral after prosecutors argued that he posed a serious danger to the community and was a flight risk.

Associated Press
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