The manhunt involved a helicopter from the Alabama Law Enforcement Association, tracking dogs from the Baldwin County Sheriff’s office and Atmore prison, and some 40 law enforcement officers from the sheriff’s department and its corrections division as well as the Daphne Police Department and ALEA, said Maj. Anthony Lowery, spokesman for the sheriff’s department.
The chase began just after Circuit Judge Jody Bishop sentenced Weston Vincent Slade, 22, to three years in prison for a probation violation stemming from a previous charge of first-degree theft of property. Slade fled the courthouse with corrections officers in pursuit. Several minutes later he was observed in Bay Minette getting into the trunk of a car driven by his 19-year-old sister Jamison Slade.
Susan Slade[/caption]According to Lowery and a sheriff’s department news release, deputies went to Weston Slade’s home address in the Chamberlain Trace subdivision just outside Daphne, where they found the car he was seen leaving in and were met by his mother, Susan Slade. Susan Slade, 56, had also been in the courtroom when he was sentenced and had witnessed his escape.
Lowery said authorities brought in a large number of officers, the dogs and the helicopter because Weston Slade was running through residential neighborhoods, creating a dangerous situation. “We just felt we needed to make sure everyone was safe,” he said. “You can’t take any chances.”
Residents spotted Slade jumping fences and running through yards, and called in their sightings to 911. Officers also checked several houses and one covered boat for worried residents he said.
After about two hours, Slade was captured as dogs tracked him and he was spotted from the helicopter in a strip of woods next to some businesses on Milton Jones Road in Belforest.
Chad Breaux, owner of Floor Medic on Milton Jones Road, said at one point he counted 10 law enforcement vehicles parked along the road. One officer asked him, “Have you seen a white guy wearing khakis? He’s going to be muddy.”
The capture took place a couple of doors to the east of his business, Breaux said.
As of Thursday afternoon all three members of the Slade family were in the Baldwin County Corrections Center. Weston Slade was expected to be charged with first-degree escape, resisting arrest and attempting to elude. Susan and Jamison Slade were charged with hindering apprehension of an escapee.
Lowery said his department will request that restitution for the costs of the manhunt be part of any sentences handed out. The request will include the costs of the helicopter and use of the search dogs from Atmore prison.
“That was a very expensive operation,” he said.