Teen gang member apparently walked away from custody

EVERETT — A teenage gang member who has been linked to multiple drive-by shootings in Everett escaped Wednesday during a temporary lapse in security.

The 16-year-old had been transferred minutes earlier from juvenile lockup to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, court records show. He was supposed to be evaluated for possible psychiatric care. Instead, he apparently walked away.

An arrest warrant was issued Thursday.

Everett police are looking for him. “He is supposed to be in custody and not in the community,” officer Aaron Snell said.

The Daily Herald is not naming the boy because of his age. He is charged in juvenile court with gun and drug offenses. His north Everett house has been the target of two separate drive-by shootings. He also is a suspect in two other gang shootings. Gang rivalries are believed to have fueled a spike in gunfire in Everett since December.

The boy was taken to the hospital Wednesday by a private ambulance. He was under a temporary release order that was sought by a designated mental health professional and approved by a judge, said Brooke Powell, assistant administrator for Snohomish County Superior Court, juvenile court operations.

“He was not under the custody of Denney Juvenile Justice Center at that time,” she said.

The boy was not accompanied by a juvenile custody officer. The temporary release order said he was to be returned to the juvenile jail after the hospital visit, Powell said.

Decisions on how to transport juvenile detainees are made on a case-by-case basis. Powell said that to the best of her knowledge this is the first time an escape has occurred.

The boy’s behavior while in detention has created challenges at Denney.

On July 4, the boy was accused of spitting on a custody officer and threatening to shoot the man. He also allegedly flooded his cell by plugging the toilet and then urinating on his cell door. Detention officials became concerned that he would harm himself, court papers show.

He appeared before a judge Monday and pleaded not guilty in a gun and drugs case. Bail was set at $10,000, and could only be paid by a parent in cash.

Word of the escape spread quickly around the Snohomish County Courthouse.

Chris Dickinson leads deputy prosecutors who handle cases involving juvenile defendants.

“I signed off on a warrant first thing this morning,” he said Thursday.

Dickinson also got on the phone to notify local law enforcement assigned specifically to chasing fugitives or monitoring gang members.

“They confirmed that they are actively looking for him,” he said.

That’s something police have done before with the boy. His last arrest, on a warrant for gun and drug charges, came after officers engaged in surveillance of the teen’s usual haunts, records show. When detained, he reportedly lectured them on his understanding of the law regarding probable cause.

The boy’s lawyer, Kristin Timm, did not respond to an email or voice message. A spokeswoman for Providence said she could not discuss the matter because of privacy policies.

It was not immediately clear whether the boy might face charges for fleeing. In Washington, escaping custody can be a felony offense.

Reporter Diana Hefley contributed to this story.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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