MANHUNT: Florida county closes schools after 3 dangerous inmates escape from jail

The Wakulla County Sheriff's Office is searching the area just south of the state capital for the three men who escaped Friday morning.

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Schools are shut down in a Florida county as authorities search for three inmates who escaped from jail.

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office is searching the area just south of the state capital for the three men who escaped Friday morning.

The sheriff’s office reported on its website that they don’t believe the men are armed, but they are considered dangerous.

Other area law enforcement agencies are assisting with the search.

The men are 43-year-old Joel Copper, 44-year-old Donald Cottermen and 25-year-old Casey Brandon. All are charged with burglary, and Cottermen is a registered sex offender.

Here is what the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office had to say about the escape on its Facebook page-

*****9:00 am UPDATE*****

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office continues to search for three escaped inmates. The inmates escaped from the Wakulla County Jail at 12:09 am this morning.

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office is following up on each of the many leads and tips that come in. Right now there is a heavy presence in the Rehwinkle & Tafflinger Road area as we investigate information that comes in. We are being assisted by FHP, FDLE, FWC, DOC, and LCSO in our search.

Many of the searches are taking place in heavily wooded areas and away from main highways so the many units involved may not be easily visible to you the citizens but we assure you that we have a large force working non-stop until we locate these escaped inmates.

The investigation into their escape is ongoing but preliminary evidence shows that the inmates were able to gain access through a breach of the ceiling in our Law Library. It appears that they then made their way across the building above the ceiling to an exit point where they made their escape from the facility.

More information will be made available as the investigation continues but at this point OUR PRIMARY FOCUS IS APPREHENSION of these inmates.

We have no indication that these individuals are armed but because they are escaped inmates they are considered dangerous. There have been no orders from the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office to remain locked in doors but if you are at home today excercise extreme caution and remain alert.

If you see these inmates DO NOT approach them call the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office immediately 850-926-0800 or 850-745-7100.

The escaped inmates, their descriptions, and charges they were being held on are as follows:

Joel Teraill Cooper – black male 5’08” 187 lbs. date of birth 12/7/1973 charges Burglary of Business

Donald James Cotterman – white male 5’11” 156 lbs. date of birth 01/19/1973 charges Burglary, Criminal Mischief & Weapon Possession. Donald Cotterman is also a registered sexual offender.

Casey Martina Brandon – white male 6’02” 210 lbs. date of birth 07/05/1992 charges Burglary, Theft, Vehicle theft, and Criminal Mischief

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