FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Authorities are now offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the accused murderer who, police said, escaped custody during a status hearing at the Broward County Courthouse.
Officials have been following tips in the 24 hours since 21-year-old Dayont’e Resiles escaped from the courthouse, located at 201 S.E. 6th St., Friday, at around 9:30 a.m.
During a press conference on Saturday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel warned that the fugitive, who is facing a first-degree murder charge, is a menace to society. “He is armed and dangerous,” he said. “Let me repeat that: He is armed and dangerous.”
Israel issued the the stern warning as the manhunt entered its second day. “We will leave no stone unturned,” said Israel while speaking with reporters, Friday afternoon. “We will do everything we can to bring him back into custody safely, quickly and efficiently.”
Israel noted that within minutes of Resiles’ escape, he had the courthouse surrounded with helicopters in the sky, but somehow the defendant got away before the perimeter was set up.
Israel said police do have surveillance footage of Resiles making it out the of the north entrance of the building before his deputies could converge on the building. “We believe he defeated the perimeter before we even got in place,” noted the sheriff. “We believe he exited through the north end of the courthouse.”
Deputies said he made his way outside and probably headed right for the street where possibly he had a car waiting for him. “This escape was pre-planned,” said Israel. “We know that Resiles had accomplices. We’re actively serving search warrants and applying for search warrants.”
Resiles is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 59-year-old Davie resident Jill Su, a wife and mother of two, inside her home back in 2014. Police believe Su was home when Resiles picked her home to burglarize. Investigators said Resiles smashed a back glass door to break into the residence, located at 10327 S.W. 22nd Place in Davie, robbing the house and killing Su.
A tip deputies received at around 3 p.m. on Friday led authorities to believe Resiles may have been at the Regal Trace apartment complex, in the area of Northwest Fourth Street and Sistrunk Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, about a mile and a half west of the courthouse.
“I mean, they have to do what they have to do in order we’re all safe inside of here,” said complex resident Nicholas Evariste, “but the sooner it ends, the better it is for everybody.”
As temperatures soared, residents who were already out were not allowed to return to their homes at the complex. Police officers, their guns drawn, guarded the front entrance as an armored vehicle rolled in and officers set up a perimeter.
7News cameras captured heavily armed police officers taking positions near one building. At one point, they led several residents out of the building.
Complex resident Pauline Duroseau came home from receiving dialysis only to learn she had to stay outside. “I know they’re just doing their job, ’cause they have to protect us” she said.
After thoroughly searching the complex, deputies apparently came up empty-handed and cleared the scene, just after 5:30 p.m. Residents were allowed to go back into their apartments.
Police said there may be accomplices in the 21-year-old’s escape. Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said someone seemed to have created a distraction in court with some clapping.
“A woman walks in,” said Finkelstein. “She stands up and starts clapping very loud. Next thing that happens is the defendant kicks his feet, the shackles come off as if they were not fastened or he had a key, runs out of the courtroom.”
Israel said, “Resiles was brought from our prison to Judge Singal’s Courtroom. He was shackled appropriately as far as wearing a waist shackle. Whether or not it was secure, we’ll find out as we investigate. Custody was given to the bailiffs in the courtroom, who are unarmed civilians. He was put in a jury box with other folks.”
Witnesses described what happened next. “I guess he took the cuffs off somehow,” said witness Christian Dennis, “and when he took the cuffs off, he just ran out the door.”
“Next thing I know, this guy jumped off from the jury box and started running toward the door,” said witness Frank Celone.
A longtime attorney who was sitting in front of the suspect said it all happened quickly. “He’s already out of the jury box and quick. It’s not like he was taking anything off,” said Jim Lewis. “Whatever his hands and his feet – he had already unshackled that in some way.”
Christian Dennis, who works in the courthouse’s felony division, was inside the courthouse when the evacuation occurred. “They just said we have to clear the courthouse immediately,” said Dennis, “because an inmate escaped and running around, allegedly, naked.”
Resiles was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and black shorts, but police believe he may have changed into plain clothes. Officials believe he was running around naked before changing clothes. His black and white striped inmate jumpsuit and shackles were found crumpled in a pile in a hallway.
“That’s what was most shocking to me, like, how did he get [his shackles] off?” said Celone.
Israel promised a harsh punishment for anyone who helped Resiles escape. “Those people will be brought to justice,” he said.
Resiles’ attorney, Dohn Williams, spoke to 7News and said this hearing had been scheduled over a month ago. “We’ve had a hearing set for well over a month on whether or not the death penalty applied or not,” said Williams. “As I was in the courthouse, not yet to the courtroom, I got a text that said my client escaped.”
Lewis said he’d never seen anything like Resiles’ escape in his many years on the job. “Most of the time, they’re caught by the door, right outside the door or very close,” he said, “but somehow this gentleman was able to get though all of the security and out of the building.”
Some attorneys and court employees were allowed back inside the courthouse on Friday, but the building remained on lockdown for the rest of the workday.
Israel ended Friday’s press conference with a warning to anyone who may be hiding Resiles, a dangerous subject believed to be armed and dangerous.
“If you’re helping him hide right now, you are guilty of a major felony of aiding and abetting, and what you need to do for your own safety and the safety of Resiles, and the safety of my deputies and police officers on this hunt, turn him in,” he said.
Israel asks that anyone who sees the subject, call 911. “Our goal is to being him back in a safe manner,” he said.
The BSO has launched an internal affairs investigation to determine how Resiles was able to break free. “We will look at every aspect of this escape,” said Israel.
If you have any information on Resiles’ whereabouts, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $20,000 reward.
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