Robbery suspect stabs deputy, flees Detroit court

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Authorities search an abandoned building for a man who escaped a courthouse in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. Derreck White, 25, who police said also used the name Abraham Pearson, was awaiting sentencing in an armed robbery and escaped a Detroit courthouse on Monday after stabbing a sheriff's deputy several times in the neck and carjacking a motorist. The escape prompted a lockdown of the facility and sparked a manhunt. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

DETROIT (AP) — A man awaiting sentencing in an armed robbery was on the run Monday after stabbing a sheriff's deputy several times in the neck, stealing his uniform then carjacking a motorist in a daring escape from a downtown Detroit courthouse, authorities said.

The escape by Derreck White, 25, who police said also used the name Abraham Pearson, sparked a manhunt and prompted a lockdown of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

White overpowered Deputy Harrison Tolliver as he transported White and two other prisoners to a holding cell, Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon said. White stabbed the deputy with a plastic comb that had been fashioned into a shank, Napoleon said.

"It was very quick," Napoleon said. "He overcame the deputy, took his clothing, got on the elevator and escaped."

Napoleon described the deputy's injuries as "puncture wounds," and said he is fine.

White was scheduled to be in court Monday morning to learn his punishment after being convicted last month of carjacking, armed robbery and firearms charges, according to court records.

Detroit police said White approached the parked minivan, threatened the woman driver and ordered her to get out. She was not injured. White drove off and was involved in a two-vehicle accident nearby, investigators said. Detroit police Chief James Craig said White then abandoned the vehicle on the city's east side.

The courthouse was closed for much of the morning. By early afternoon, dozens of officers were fanning out on the city's east side to search for White as helicopters buzzed overhead. Some schools were locked down. Interim Assistant Chief Eric Ewing said the suspect may have a radio that broadcasts police communications.

"He may be listening to some of the things we're putting out right now," Ewing said.

White also may have put on the deputy's uniform during the escape. The shirt was later recovered, but he still may have the beige pants, said Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Jaafar.

Defense attorney James Howarth said White had a mental health exam but was found competent to stand trial. He said White talked of having hallucinations in the past and wonders if mental health may have played a role in the escape.

"In his right mind he would not have done this," Howarth said. "In the year I have known him, he has never showed the slightest symptom of being dangerous. Something is very wrong."

Howarth said: "It may have been a final act of desperation if you don't want to go to prison."

People who waited outside the courthouse were allowed to enter a few hours after the escape.


Associated Press writers Jeff Karoub, David Runk and Corey Williams contributed to this report.