The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

December 29, 2009

Lockdown lifted at TDCJ Estelle Unit

HUNTSVILLE — The lockdown has been lifted from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Estelle Unit as the investigation continues into the escape of offender Arcade Comeaux Jr.

As of Monday the high security sections of the unit were officially taken off lockdown. The general population lockdown was removed on Dec. 14.

Though the lockdowns have been removed, the investigation into Comeaux’s escape by the TDCJ Office of the Inspector General continues.

Comeaux escaped during a transfer from the Estelle Unit to the Stiles Unit in Beaumont on Nov. 30.

While riding in a TDCJ vehicle, Comeaux produced a pistol and subdued the officers guarding him. He forced the officers to drive the vehicle to Baytown, where he fled on foot. He was recaptured in Houston on Dec. 7.

As the investigation began, the key focus became understanding how Comeaux was able to obtain a firearm from inside the unit.

According to TDCJ Public Information Director Michelle Lyons, no information has yet been released on how the firearm has been obtained, though several TDCJ employees have been dismissed as a result of the investigation, including one correctional officer accused of placing calls to Comeaux’s ex-wife on his behalf.

Shortly after the investigation began, TDCJ Director Brad Livingston called for an independent audit of the unit by an outside firm. According to Lyons, work on the audit has been completed by Kenneth McGinnis of MGT of America Inc. The findings of the audit have not yet been released.

The Office of the Inspector General investigation continues into the incident.

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