The sheriff of Prince George's County and several deputies burst into the offices of a maintenance company in Brentwood Wednesday night to search for a jail escapee who turned out not to be there.

James Thompson, owner of the Hyattsville Maintenance Corp., said yesterday he was grabbed, handcuffed and pushed to the floor of his offices at 4414 Penwood Rd., Brentwood, by a sheriff's deputy who then held a shotgun to his head. He said three other persons in the building, one of whom was a watchman lying in bed in his room, were told to put their hands above their heads and that chairs were overturned and a door damaged by a deputy's kick during the search.

Most of the details of the Wednesday night search for 17-year-old Kevin Gill, one of the two inmates who escaped Sunday, from the County Jail in Upper Marlboro, are undisputed.

What was primarily in dispute yesterday was whether Sheriff Don Edward Ansell should have had a search warrant. He did not, although he had a warrant for the arrest of Gill. The arrest warrant had been granted shortly after the escape.

The county prosecutor, State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr., said yesterday that before a lawman enters a building to search it, a search warrant should be obtained if time permits, even if the officer or deputy already has an arrest warrant.

"I've never heard of that before in my life," said Ansell in response to Marshall's comment, which was made to a reporter. "I can guarantee you if that's true, it will curtail the service of arrest warrants by so much it isn't funny." The sheriff said he planned to talk to Marshall about the matter.

Ansell said surveillance of Thompson's offices was begun about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday because two informants produced information that afternoon that Gill, a convicted armed robber, was spending the night there.

Ansell said he and 25 to 30 deputies, four or five of them in uniform, had surrounded the building after they observed three persons entering it. He said one of the three resembled Gill.

Both Ansell and Thompson agree that a knock on the door preceded the entry and search. Ansell said his men probably displayed their guns because Gill was known to be violent and probably armed. The sheriff said he announced who he was before the search ended and told those in the office, "We're looking for escapees, and I'll explain it to you in a minute." Thompson, disagreed, saying the men didn't identify themselves until after the 10 minute search.

Ansell said he saw no property damage, but Sgt. William Graham of the sheriff's department said he remembers a deputy kicking a door, but that the door was undamaged.

The person seen entering the building who Ansell had thought was Gill turned out to be Paul Tiberio, 19, son of Guy Tiberio, former mayor of Riverdale, the sheriff said.