A 28-year-old District man awaiting trial for armed robbery was at large last night after he broke away from guards at D.C. Jail, apparently scaled a 15-foot-high wall and then jumped to freedom on the other side.
Steven Curtis Murray, who was being returned to the jail yesterday afternoon after appearing in D.C. Superior Court on the robbery charge, was being sought last night by the D.C. police, the U.S. Marshal's Service and the city's Corrections Department.
Officials said that at least one shot apparently was fired at Murray by an off-duty corrections officer as the fugitive climbed over the wall and that Murray may have been injured. It was unclear last night precisely how Murray managed to make his way out of a group of prisoners inside the compound or whether he had help.
Marshal Herbert M. Rutherford III said Murray apparently slipped out of handcuffs as he was being transferred with a group of 19 other inmates from a bus returning from court into the jail complex.
"We're not exactly sure how it happened," said Rutherford, adding that his office has begun an investigation into the incident.
Rutherford said Murray should be considered as possibly armed and dangerous, although he was unable to shed light on the charge on which Murray was being held after his arrest May 8 or whether he had any prior record of dangerous acts.
Authorities said late yesterday they had visited two locations where Murray reportedly was living, and were using canines and a helicopter in the search, in addition to at least a dozen deputy marshals and numerous police officers.
Rutherford gave Murray's address as 306 Oklahoma Ave. NE. D.C. police said Murray lived at 1213 C St. NE.
Rutherford said Murray had been led off the bus around 2:30 p.m. From there it was unclear what happened.
According to an account by a corrections source, Murray slipped away from the group and reached a truck next to the north wall of the jail compound. He jumped onto the truck, this source said, and pulled himself to the top of the wall before he was noticed.
Rutherford said two corrections employes saw Murray go over the wall, which is topped with concertina barbed wire studded with razor blades. Rutherford said some blood was found on the ground where Murray is believed to have landed.
Police said Murray, wearing gray cut-off sweat pants and a sweatshirt, was last seen fleeing south through Congressional Cemetery. Police said two corrections officers pursued him into the cemetery, but lost sight of him.
The marshals office said anyone with information should call 633-1750 or 285-1100.