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Weber escape spurs a probe of procedures

Hector Antonio Lopez
Hector Antonio Lopez

The Weber County Sheriff's Office is re-examining its procedures when transporting inmates after a 16-year-old murder suspect escaped from Ogden's 2nd District Courthouse.

The boy, who police said also had smuggled a handcuff key, was captured a couple of blocks away after a brief chase.

On Friday afternoon, the Weber County Attorney's Office filed a third-degree felony escape charge against Hector Antonio Lopez, 16, charging him as an adult. He is scheduled to make an appearance before a judge on Monday.

Already, Weber County Sheriff's officials said they have identified a couple of areas where their system broke down.

"The procedure is correct, but it wasn't adhered to correctly," Weber County Sheriff's Capt. Klint Anderson said Friday. "We don't let prisoners out of our transport vehicle until the bay doors are secured."

Lopez was being transported from the Farmington Bay Youth Center to the 2nd District Courthouse for a hearing on Thursday afternoon. As the door was closing on the sally port underneath the courthouse, Anderson said, the deputy hit a button to open the minivan door. The teen jumped out, rolled underneath the closing garage door and fled.

"That was split-second timing on that kid's part," Anderson said.

Deputies chased down the boy and re-captured him in a church parking lot at 27th Street and Lincoln Avenue. As they searched him, Anderson said officers discovered Lopez had a handcuff key.

"We've got to figure out where he got the key," he said. "If this was part of some sort of conspiracy or negligence, then that person needs to be held responsible as well."

Under questioning, deputies said, the 16-year-old was "surprisingly forthright" and did not implicate anyone else. However, investigators are still trying to learn where he got the key.

Farmington Bay Youth Center director Tony Hassell said Friday that state investigators were summoned to look into the escape attempt, and the juvenile detention facility is conducting its own investigation.

Lopez was being held in the Weber County Jail but away from the general population, Anderson said. The Weber County Sheriff's Office said the teen is also a suspect in a murder and a robbery in connection with a gang-related shooting in Ogden. A 15-year-old boy also is facing charges in that case.