Two D.C. Jail inmates, recaptured after breaking out earlier this month, wriggled out of handcuffs last night, bolted away from guards and scaled the jail wall to escape a second time.
The two, who had remained at large for nine days after the earlier jail break, were recaptured within minutes last night by pursuing jail guards. One was seized at nearby D.C. General Hospital; the other as he tried to hide among excited, shouting passengers on a Metrobus.
The inmates, Samuel Byrd, 26, and Larry Wallace, 24, fled about 6:50 p.m. after being returned to the jail by deputy U.S. marshals from a court hearing on charges stemming from the earlier break.
Wallace and Byrd were among about 30 persons being returned last night in a marshall's service bus, guarded by two deputies, that pulled up in the jail courtyard. About half the group had already left the bus when Wallace and Byrd descened.
They had been handcuffed together, but Byrd apparently succeeded somehow in wriggling out of the manacle on his wrist.
As soon as the men set foot in the courtyard -- Byrd with his hands free, Wallace with an empty cuff dangling from his left wrist -- they started running.
Swiftly clambering onto the top of a truck parked in the yard, they darted from it onto the roof of a shed that adjoins the jail's masonry outside wall.
Grasping a surveillance camera mounted on the inside of the wall, and using it for leverage, they pulled themselves to the top of the 15-foot wall and dropped down on the otherside to freedom.
Posted in a guard tower not far from 19th and D streets SE, correctionl officer Fred Bailey saw the two men flee. He sounded an internal escape alert.
Jacqueline Richardson and Robert Coleman, two jail employees who were leaving on a dinner break, also saw the fugitives.
Gregory Hanna, a jail correctional officer who patrols the perimeter in a van, was alerted. A chase began.
As others pointed the way, Hanna drove up to a Metrobus that had stopped for passengers on the grounds of D.C. General, perhaps 100 yards from the jail.
Boarding the vehicle, he found it full of "screaming . . . "yelling" passengers.
Seated near the front, sweating from his exertion but "trying to be as cool as possible," according to Hanna, was Byrd. Drawing his .38 caliber service revolver, Hanna, aided by Coleman, who had joined the chase, took the fugitive into custody.
Meanwhile, jail Sgt. Robert Rogers raced in pursuit of the fleeing Wallace, finally overtaking and seizing him at the admissions desk at entrance to the hospital.
"We're proud as hell of those officers, let me tell you," said Leroy Anderson, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Corrections, which operates the jail.
Byrd apparently injured his leg in leaping from the wall. He was treated at the hospital for a sprained ankle. No other injuries were reported.
Wallace, Byrd and two other men escaped May 8 from the jail after cutting through bars in a cell window, lowering themselves five stories to the ground on a makeshift rope of bedsheets and scaling the outer wall.
James Rufus Lee, 31, was recaptured about a half mile from the jail shortly after that breakout.
Wallace, who was awaiting trial on an armed robbery charge, was arrested by marshals May 17 in Cheverly. Byrd, who was awaiting trial on a charge of murder, was arrested by marshals the same day in Harrisburg, Pa.
Authorities said at the time that they believed the two had been together much of the time since the May 8 escape.
J. Jerome Bullock, U.S. marshal for the District of Collumbia said he did not know why the two were handcuffed to each other last night but that he would investigate.
He said both men would receive particularly careful attention in the future.