county courthouse escape

A Fairfield firefighter does a medical check on a Solano County Sherrif’s Deputy, after an incident where a maximum-security inmate tried to escape from the Solano County Superior Court building Monday. The deputy is covered in powder from a fire extinguisher the inmate used in his escape attempt. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)


Authorities: Inmate escape try prompts courthouse evacuation

By From page A5 | February 12, 2014

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 [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

Discussion | 11 comments

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  • Salty DogFebruary 11, 2014 - 7:39 am

    Why wasent this man in hand cuffs and shackles if he was he would not have been able to run and this would never had happened. That is political correctness run a muck

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  • JBFebruary 11, 2014 - 12:55 pm

    It seems to me that this report indicates the actions of a man in the throes of a panic attack or similar mental health crisis. This was clearly not a rational action on the part of Mr. Schabert. And, standard procedures require inmates to be in shackles for court...several aspects of the story don't make sense at all. Trust me, so-called political correctness was not operative here; insufficient or inadequate training of jail personnel clearly was a key feature. I have never been on probation, but I do know people who have. Probation violations are really not too hard to accumulate depending on what the rules for probation have been established. It does not require re-offending to fail probation rather, for example, not being able to find a job can be a violation of probation.

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  • elleryFebruary 11, 2014 - 9:37 pm

    Escape attempt sounds like a stretch. He was proboly freaking out from not having crank for a few days. A drug charge and probation violation would not have given him a long time in jail, after assaulting 3 deputies, pissing every judge in the courthouse off this guy will be in for 90 days now.

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  • RalphFebruary 11, 2014 - 9:05 am

    yeh...something must be wrong

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  • CABFebruary 11, 2014 - 1:16 pm

    Plus the over-crowding in the prisons. They are trying to keep as many people out of the prison right now because they have a federal mandate to lower the prison population.

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  • MarkFebruary 11, 2014 - 9:31 am

    "violated probation four times"....why do they keep giving him more chances?

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  • JBFebruary 11, 2014 - 1:08 pm

    See my reply to "Salty Dog" re probation violations

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  • Close callFebruary 11, 2014 - 6:45 pm

    Thank god that fire extinguisher didn't have maple flavored glaze icing in it or this City would be in shut down.

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  • JusticeFebruary 12, 2014 - 7:01 pm

    Folks, the door he got through has been broken for a long time. The Sheriff. Tom Ferrera who's busy running for re-election, is too busy campaigning to worry about things like public safety. This is another example of him costing the tax payers a fortune. He's a joke. He was previously a cop in Isleton. He is not being endorsed by the correctional officers for a reason. Vote No for Tom Ferrera.

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  • True JusticeFebruary 13, 2014 - 4:59 pm

    Mr. Justice, do you seriously think that the Sheriff is responsiable for each door in all his buildings? The Sheriff relies on competent employees to provide excellent service to the community, which you clearly are not. You are clearly a disgruntled Correctional Officer, who has an axe to grind. Now why don't you give a accurate assessment of the situation. The inmate escaped from an area that is staffed, supervised, and managed by Correctional Officers - just like you. So, if you have known this was a problem why did you fail to report the problem? You have publicly expressed knowledge of an issue. Are you so disgrunteled you can no longer be involved in positive change, only a problem child? In addition, you clearly are not well informed as the Sheriff has an endorsement list that is the who's who of the county and of the Law Enforcement Community - he is clearly the right man for the job!

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  • Mr. SmithFebruary 12, 2014 - 7:05 pm

    Justice: You might be right about Ferrara, I do not know. But, is the Solano County Sheriff personally responsible for a broken door at the courthouse? Just askin'.

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