Manhunt Underway for Suspect Who Escaped During Courtroom Brawl
A courtroom brawl in Texas allowed a separate defendant on another floor to escape custody on Tuesday, as security and police officers were focused on breaking up the mêlée downstairs. A manhunt is currently underway for Michael Devin Combs, who escaped custody after another hearing turned violent.
Anna Machado was addressing the court during her daughter Diamond Alvarez’s murder trial. After she finished her remarks, Machado lunged at her daughter’s murderer, Frank DeLeon Jr.
DeLeon was set to face trial this week, but accepted a plea deal guaranteeing him 45 years in prison. He shot 16-year-old Alvarez 22 times in the back, according to the Houston police department, when she confronted him over his relationship with another woman.
As Machado charged her daughter’s killer, bailiffs restrained her. However, Alvarez’s uncle charged at DeLeon as the court tried desperately to stop the fight. During this time, a panic alarm was sounded, which alerted officers throughout the rest of the building to the unfolding chaos.
Meanwhile, 32-year-old Combs was in another courtroom having his bail revoked. He had been out on bond, accused of choking his partner, but had tested positive for meth and was found to have tampered with his ankle monitor.
The officers guarding Combs responded to the alert, leaving him shackled to a bench for roughly 15 minutes. During this time, he was somehow able to escape his handcuffs and walk from the courtroom..
According to Harris County Sheriff’s Office Major Lynette Anderson, Combs took an elevator down to the lobby and calmly walked out of the building, where he immediately removed his ankle monitor. He was last glimpsed on surveillance video fleeing the scene, wearing a blue shirt and khaki trousers.
“Someone should have stayed with (Combs) at the time,” Anderson said, while admitting that proper procedures weren’t followed.
A manhunt is currently underway for Combs. Though she claims to be unaware of his whereabouts, his mother Kimberly Combs said she spoke with her son on Tuesday morning shortly after his escape. She said he escaped to avoid going back to jail.
“I feel like my child is backed up in a corner,” Combs said. “He was begging the lawyer to please listen to him and give him a chance.”
It’s the third high-profile prison escape this year alone. Over the summer, Ronaldo Cavalcante eluded authorities for two weeks after escaping from a prison in southeastern Pennsylvania. Last month, an inmate in Indiana was “mistakenly released” and also eluded authorities for a fortnight before he was captured.