A Georgia state prisoner assigned to a work detail at DeVaul Henderson Park — next to McAllister Elementary School — escaped briefly on Aug. 8, the day after school started.
The incident occurred around 2 p.m., according to a Bryan County Sheriff’s Office report. The offender was captured a short time later by the Richmond Hill Police Department near Publix.
Bryan County Schools Superintendent Paul Brooksher said students and staff at McAllister were not in danger at any point during the incident.
“I was on the phone with the principal the entire time and there was a sheriff’s deputy in the office with him,” Brooksher said. “It was resolved so quickly that we didn’t have to take any official action.”
Brooksher said staff at each school are well versed in what actions to take to protect students in the event of several circumstances and practice lockdown and evacuation drills often.
Commissioners Chairman Carter Infinger said the county has suspended the contract with the state for prisoner maintenance work at Henderson Park and the nearby County Administrative Complex.
“We’re reviewing the contracts and re-evaluating the situation,” Infinger said. “For now we’ve pulled them out of the park and we’ll be using our own employees for that work.”
Infinger said the county has been using state prisoners from Long County for the work for more than 10 years and this is the first such incident of an escape that he can recall.
Aside from McAllister Elementary School, the park also is adjacent to the Buckhead East subdivision, and a nature trail on one end of the park leads to the Highway 144 Spur and additional neighborhoods, as well as Fort McAllister State Park.
According to the Georgia Department of Corrections website, the offender is serving time for forgery, theft and drug possession. Department of Corrections officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.