FAIRFIELD — A maximum-security jail inmate who had been on the lam for nearly a year until his arrest last week in Vacaville made a brief but failed flight for freedom Monday, according to sheriff’s officials.
Michael J. Schabert, 24, made a brief court appearance Monday. Afterward, while being escorted back to the jail by sheriff’s deputies around 11:30 a.m., he made a break for it, running from his jailers down a tunnel that connects the courthouse to the adjacent jail.
Schabert did not make it far. He got to the north end of the tunnel and made his way into a small, secured lobby area used for a pair of keycard-controlled courthouse elevators.
Three deputies caught up to Schabert in the room.
Authorities said Schabert tried to fend them off by using a large handheld fire extinguisher and dousing them with dry powder chemicals. One of the deputies fired a Taser at Schabert, who was then subdued as the room filled with the blinding and choking powder.
Officials believe the powder chemicals triggered an elevator fire alarm, which activated emergency alarm bells throughout the three-story courthouse and prompted the evacuation of all those who were not court employees.
The deputies with Schabert took him outside the courthouse while other deputies locked down the courthouse and called in Fairfield police for help as they tried to figure out what they were dealing with. As dozens of spectators looking on, sheriff’s deputies and police quickly surrounded the courthouse, looking for jail inmates who might also have fled.
It took about 10 minutes for an inmate headcount to determine Schabert had acted on his own and the lookouts circling the courthouse were ordered to stand down.
Three deputies were taken to NorthBay Medical Center where they were treated and released. Schabert was also taken to the hospital where his minor wounds from the Taser darts were treated before he was taken back to the jail.
Sheriff’s officials say Schabert, who faced drug possession and probation violation charges, will now likely face additional charges of assaulting police and trying to escape.
Schabert’s drug case dates back to 2010. He was placed on probation and ordered to attend drug court. Since then he has violated probation four times and has repeatedly been given additional chances to return to probation.
Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Daryl Snedeker said an investigation will be conducted about the policies and procedures within the jail to determine if any changes in handling inmates is needed.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.