Echo Glen escape: 3 of 5 teens taken back into custody

Three of five teen boys who escaped Echo Glen Children's Center are now in custody, the King County Sheriff's Office has confirmed.

Deputies said at about 1:30 a.m., Timothy Hernandez-Ebanks was taken into custody without incident in south King County. He was convicted for first-degree murder from a 2020 homicide.

A second unnamed teen was arrested in Kent around 3:15 p.m. Kent police said they responded to a tip that one of the escapees was at a location on the East Hill of Kent. With some negotiating, officers were able to take the juvenile into custody without incident.

King County authorities said a third teen was taken into custody Thursday afternoon in Kirkland - leaving two teens still on the run.

On Wednesday morning, Washington authorities said five boys assaulted multiple staff members at Echo Glen Children's Center, stole a car and escaped from the juvenile detention center.

Deputies said the teens escaped around 7:45 a.m. at Echo Glen in Snoqualmie, Washington. There were only minor injuries to the staff members who were assaulted.

According to the King County sheriff's office, the five juveniles aged 14-17, were being held for crimes ranging from first-degree murder to possession of a firearm to possession of stolen property.

They said the group stole a 2018 gray or blue Ford Fusion that is part of the facility's motor pool - with Washington plates 27545E. The names of the other boys wanted have not been released.

One of the escapees was identified as 15-year-old Timothy Hernandez-Ebanks. Deputies released his identity because they are concerned for "the safety and wellbeing of the public." He was taken into custody early Thursday morning.

When Hernandez-Ebanks was 13 years old, he shot and killed a man in Burien at random, saying he did it because he was depressed and "just felt like doing it," according to court documents. 

There was no indication that the group had any weapons.

What is Echo Glen Children's Center?

Echo Glen Children's Center is a youth rehabilitation facility in Snoqualmie that serves Washington state's highest-risk youth.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or the King County Sheriff's non-emergency number at 206/296-3311.  Anonymous tips may be shared with Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound via P3Tips.com or using the P3 Tips app on your mobile device.

The Echo Glen Children's Center in Snoqualmie is a medium/maximum security facility that is not fenced, but is bordered by natural wetlands.

Previous escapes at Echo Glen

In the last decade there have been at least three other inmate escapes at Echo Glen that have prompted calls for better security at the facility.

Back in Sept. 2012, six boys ages 14-15 knocked a female security guard unconscious with a frozen water bottle. According to The Seattle Times, they then locked her up and stole her keys and radio. The escape appeared planned in advance – the boys were carrying packed bags when police caught up to them, and one of them had even stuffed his bed to make it look like he was still in his room.

Exactly one year later in Sept. 2013 there was another escape – this time by a single 15-year-old inmate. According to the Snoqualmie Valley Record, he got away while staff moved the kids between buildings. In that case, there was only one staff member on guard when there should have been two.

In Dec. 2018, two teens at Echo Glen made a brief escape – a 14-year-old serving time for a gang-related murder and a 16-year-old who was in for robbery. According to Patch.com, law enforcement said at the time that the teen were able to get away because they gained access to an unfenced area of the campus. Officials at Echo Glen said they would be looking at security protocols following the incident.

READ ALSO: King County paying sheriff's deputies $4,000 bonus to stay on through end of 2022

What changes were made, if any, will certainly be under the microscope as authorities investigate the latest escape.

But the Department of Children, Youth & Families, the agency that oversees Echo glen, also confirmed to FOX 13 News that they will also be looking at staffing levels in relation to the prison break: "DCYF, like many other employers across the state, has had workforce challenges in recruitment and retention."

It’s a problem that’s playing out across the state’s prison system. Earlier this month the union representing guards at those facilities sent a letter to the secretary of the Washington Department of Corrections pleading for more staffing.

"While we do not yet know the full details of what occurred this morning, we do know that the failure to provide adequate training, staffing—and ultimately funding—is a recipe for disaster.  WFSE members continue to call on policy makers to invest in state institutions. Passing the buck jeopardizes the safety of staff and the public we serve," the Washington Federation of State Employees said in a statement. WFSE is a union representing public service workers. 

And the culprit here might be COVID: since the omicron variant started spreading across the state, DOC data shows the prison system has experienced more cases among inmates and guards than at any time during the pandemic.

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