Authorities Still Searching For Escaped Inmate
The sheriff said a number of law enforcement agencies are still searching for Chandler more than 24 hours after he escaped custody while being treated at Berkshire Medical Center.
Chandler was arrested on July 3 on a number of warrants and was being treated at the hospital for infections in his hands when he assaulted the corrections officer and escaped.
"At this time we would encourage Mr. Chandler to turn himself in peacefully. We are working with members of his family and have made contact with his attorney. We further encourage the public to report possible sightings to the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, the Pittsfield Police Department, or the Massachusetts State Police if Mr. Chandler is observed at all," Bowler said on Tuesday during a press conference updating the public on the operation.
Chandler had been in the hospital since his arrest and, shortly after 2 p.m. on Monday, he was uncuffed to change from hospital garments to jail garments as he was being released from treatment and to be transported to the Berkshire County House of Correction. After getting the orange pants on, Chandler allegedly assaulted the guard watching him and then fled the hospital.
Bowler said the guard was treated for minor injuries and is back to work, even joining the manhunt to find him.
"We've been following leads with close to 50 law enforcement officers between the three agencies and federal resources. We were following leads until 4:30 this morning and then we regrouped again today at 8, 8:30 this morning," Bowler said.
Chandler was homeless at the time of his arrest but his family remains in the area. Bowler said his family is "very much involved" in the search. On social media, his sister made a plea on a number of posts hoping he'd see it and turn himself in.
"He is in the wrong and I hope he gets quickly and safely apprehended and gets the held he needs... he is also someone's son, brother, father, and loved one. Little Harry if you read this I implore you to turn your self in," Carrie Chandler wrote on a number of forums.
The 33-year-old Dalton native was once a champion Judo fighter who would ultimately begin to build a criminal record and struggle with addiction. Over the years he faced a number of changes for such things as assault and battery and breaking and entering.
In this latest arrest, the pending charges were breaking and entering, assaulting a police officer, drug possession, trespass, shoplifting, assault, and battery with a dangerous weapon and failing to register as a sex offender.
If or when he is caught, he'd be facing charges for escaping and assaulting an officer as well.
Authorities don't believe he is an immediate threat to the public at large. However, it does give Bowler cause for concern that he has shown the willingness to be aggressive.
Bowler encourages the public not to approach Chandler if they see him but instead call the authorities.
"We certainly have no information that Mr. Chandler has accessed any weapons. He has already displayed aggressive behavior toward one of our individuals. He has some aggressive behavior in the past so obviously that is is a concern. That is why we are dealing with the family. We got the word into many of his associates to hopefully turn himself in so we can have a peaceful resolution," Bowler said.
Bowler believes he is still in the immediate area and authorities have followed up on tips in Pittsfield, Dalton, and in one case Great Barrington.
The search launched on Monday included the sheriff's office, Pittsfield Police, and officers from the Lanesborough Police Department. The Massachusetts State Police joined and a police helicopter searched for him.
The search continues with officers from the Sheriff's Office, Pittsfield Police, Massachusetts State Police, and an officer from the FBI, which Bowler said will bring technological resources to the effort.
The sheriff's office released a mugshot of Chandler and advised that he currently does not have the facial hair as photographed. He also may appear a bit thinner than in the photograph.