KANKAKEE, Ill. (WLS) -- Escaped inmate Kamron Taylor, 23, remains on the run after overpowering a guard at the Kankakee County Jail early Wednesday morning. The convicted killer is considered armed and dangerous.
A $5,000 reward is offered for information leading to his arrest.
Around 3 a.m., Taylor, who is awaiting sentencing on a murder conviction, overpowered a correctional guard at the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee, Ill. He somehow got out of his cell and hid, officials said, waiting for the guard to do his early morning rounds.
INMATE JUMPS GUARD, BEATS HIM UNCONSCIOUS
Few knew the jail as well as LeAundre Harrington, 38, of University Park. But despite having years of law enforcement and military experience, the sheriff's deputy and 10-year employee at the decade-old facility was beaten unconscious.
"As he was walking in the unit, he was hit from the side. An attempt was made to choke him and then he was beaten and we believe knocked unconscious," Kankakee County Sheriff Tim Bukowski said. Bukowski said there is video of the attack.
"We still don't know how it came to be that he was not locked in his cell," Sheriff Bukowski said. "We are reviewing videotape inside the facility, and we will break that down to see how he got out of the cell and avoided the headcounts."
For 30 minutes, Harrington lay unconscious after authorities say Taylor choked and beat him in the head. Fellow deputies found Harrington in a cell shower after he failed to answer his radio. He was rushed to St. Mary's Hospital.
"He's in intensive care. They've done, I know, a CAT scan, and a number of other tests have been performed and more are being performed as we're here today, so it's serious," Sheriff Bukowski said.
St. Mary's declined to comment on Harrington's condition Wednesday night.
GUARD'S UNIFORM, CAR USED TO ESCAPE
Taylor escaped wearing the guard's uniform around 3 a.m. To get out of the facility, Taylor passed through three doors, one of which required a visual inspection by camera. Both men are black and have "pretty close" builds, Bukowski said.
"There are very few people moving at that time in the morning. The officers at master control did not detect anything out of the normal for them, so they went ahead and let him out," Sheriff Bukowski said.
Taylor fled in Harrington's vehicle, a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox with Illinois license plate P506660. Harrington's service weapon was in his vehicle. It's now likely in Taylor's possession.
That vehicle was found parked in the driveway of Gretchen Jackson's home in the 1200-block of Lincoln Avenue in Kankakee, Ill., around 8 a.m.
"Next thing I know there are helicopters overhead. There are probably 40 cops in my yard with full blown rifles and guns pulled, gear. It was really scary," Jackson said.
Local law enforcement agencies, including those with canines, helped in the hunt for Taylor, who is about 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. The U.S. Marshals Service's Fugitive Task Force is also involved.
"We are in search mode," Chief Deputy Ken McCabe said.
A woman who lives near where the stolen vehicle was parked was escorted from her home by police "for her own safety," according to a neighbor. Officials also searched two vacant homes on the block.
"They had the canines go through my home, and, in addition to that, the officers walked through twice. They checked everything. They were very thorough. I'm very grateful that he didn't break in and nothing happened to me or my kids," Jackson said.
Most schools in Kankakee County are on spring break this week, but the sheriff's office advised any schools that may be in session to go on soft lockdown, which means keeping children in class and not letting visitors inside the building, on Wednesday.
Illinois State Police issued an alert for a 15-year-old Kankakee girl who was reported missing around the same time as Taylor's escape. She was found, and officials said they do not believe she had anything to do with the situation.
HISTORY OF ESCAPE
Taylor is the first to escape from the facility since it opened in 2005, Sheriff Bukowski said, but there have been other failed attempts.
These aren't "altar boys," Sheriff Bukowski said of the inmates. "That's why you have the number of checks that we do have. Now the question for us is: Where did it break down?"
Sheriff Bukowski said it's premature to point fingers, but said it appears "somebody didn't do their job properly."
During Taylor's trial in February, he tried to escape from the courthouse minutes after hearing the guilty verdict. Several sheriff's deputies and bailiffs wrestled him to the ground, and Taylor shouted expletives at the gallery as they led him away, according to a report in The (Kankakee) Daily Journal.
He also escaped briefly after his arrest in 2013 but was detained several blocks away, the newspaper reported at the time.
Taylor was found guilty of first-degree murder for the June 2013 slaying of 21-year-old Nelson Williams Jr. during a botched robbery at Williams' home in Kankakee. He faces a sentence of 45 years to life.
Williams was shot in the head on his front porch during a scuffle with a man demanding money. A 911 recording capturing the sound of the single gunshot was played for jurors.
The victim's fiancee, Rebecca Hoover, witnessed the shooting and provided dramatic testimony, telling the court she saw a man put Williams in a headlock and shoot him.
Taylor's criminal history also extends to Tennessee, where he has more convictions for armed robbery and resisting arrest, and was on parole until 2018.
The Illinois Dept. of Corrections issued a statement Wednesday evening: "The Interstate Compact Act allows Kamron Taylor to serve his state of Tennessee parole under IDOC supervision. Mr. Taylor has been supervised regularly since he came to Illinois in 2012. The IDOC continues to monitor Mr. Taylor and our apprehension and intelligence units are actively participating in efforts to locate and apprehend him."
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