Schools close after teens escape juvenile detention center
EGG HARBOR CITY — Four teenagers who escaped from a South Jersey youth detention center and are considered dangerous have led to the cancellation of classes in several districts.
Galloway Police reported the escape from the Harbor Fields Juvenile Detention Center in Egg Harbor City just after 12:30 a.m.. They asked residents to call 911 if they see suspicious activity.
Acting Atlantic County Sheriff Mike Petuskey said the teens — two age 16, a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old — overpowered a correction officer and stole the keys to his personal vehicle around 12:30 a.m. and led police on a chase before crashing into a house on Beurger Street. They then ran off on foot, leading to the search.
Hamilton Township Police in Atlantic County identified the juveniles as Stephine Woodley, Raymir Lampkin, Michael Huggins and Donovan Nickerson.
Petuskey said the circumstances of the breakout were still under investigation but authorities did not think they had weapons.
Petuskey said at a press conference one of the teens is a black male weighing 190 pounds wearing white boxers and a cream colored shirt and wearing flip-flops. The second person is also a black male standing 5 feet 7 inches and weighing 160 pounds, wearing white boxesr, a thermal cream colored shirt and possibly a T-shirt. The third teen stands 6 feet 2 inches weighing 175 pounds, wearing boxers and a cream colored shirt with only socks on his feet. The fourth subject stands 5 feet 9 inches, wearing khaki pants and a black polo shirt with "AYC" embroidered across the front wearing black sneakers and pink socks.
Residents in the area of the escape were also notified by an emergency robocall.
Officers were also positioned at NJ Transit stations in case they tried to leave the area. The State Police helicopter was also part of the initial search
Petuskey said he is concerned the teens will be cold and try to get warm by entering a home or building.
"We don't know if they are going to break into a house, we have no idea," Petuskey said.
Schools in the Greater Egg Harbor Regional School District, Egg Harbor City Public School District, Galloway Township Public Schools, Hamilton Township School District, and Mullica Township School District have all canceled classes for Wednesday because of the escape, according to 6ABC.
A call to the Atlantic County Sheriff's Department was referred to the county prosecutor's office, which has not yet returned a message.
The Harborfields Youth Detention center is on Buffalo Avenue in Egg Harbor City and is managed by the state Department of Law & Public Safety, according to its website.
The center serves both males and females age 12-18 with eight secure beds for females and 12 for males.