Kalamazoo County Jail escapee jumped barbed, razor wire fences without injury

Kalamazoo County Jail escapee jumped barbed, razor wire fences without injury. (WWMT/Carter Gent)

An accused killer scaled two barbed and razor-wire fences to briefly break out of the Kalamazoo County Jail on Wednesday.

Donnovan Lewis accused of killing Aniya Mack and was on the run for half an hour before police got him back in handcuffs.

Marcus VanPelt, witnessed capture, said, “They yelled down the street they said ‘Go inside, go inside.’”

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff James VanDyken did not hesitate to say an escape like this is extremely rare. The last escape happened decades ago.

Within 30 seconds, Lewis jumped two 12-15 fee high fences topped with barbed wire and razor wire without injury.

Dangerous, desperate and on the run, police scrambled to find an accused killer.

VanPelt said, “He come up from the back of the house running towards the church parking, he hopped a couple fences.”

He saw the escapee run across East Maple Street in his underwear, a tank top and tennis shoes.

Seconds later, he says, police swarmed the Southside neighborhood.

A Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety K-9 unit led officers to Lewis who was found near the intersection of Portage and Bryant Streets.

VanDyken said, “They were on it, they were on it, immediately on it, they just lost sight of him."

Lewis had quickly stripped off his orange jump suit before running into city neighborhoods.

VanDyken said, “He doesn't have a cell phone he doesn't have any way to communicate with anybody so that person was very desperate so we are glad nothing happened when he was in that state of mind.”

The sheriff's office called every available patrol to search for Lewis.

VanPelt said, “We just heard a whole bunch of sirens.”

Police caught Lewis near Portage Street and Bryant Street about three miles from the jail after he was on the run for 33 minutes.

VanPelt said, “This whole block was shut down from the police.”

Investigators said a tip about a man hopping fences in the Southside neighborhood and getting into a car led police to Lewis.

Michigan State Police had a helicopter in the air and there were dozens of patrol cars out, but it was a tip from workers at a local business who saw someone jumping fences. Police dogs found Lewis.

Police are thankful no one in the community was hurt. and admit things could have been a lot worse.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office has a community alert system for this kind of situation, but an alert was not sent out because they said there was not enough time.

Deputies were typing the alert as the suspect was caught.

VanDyken said at least two deputies were watching the inmates in the outdoor recreation area while the escape happened. Deputies said Lewis will not be allowed outside anytime soon.

He is expected to be arraigned Thursday on the charge of escape. The 25-year-old is accused of killing Mack, whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase in a Comstock creek in June.

Lewis is in jail awaiting a murder trial.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off