FLORENCE, SC (WMBF)- A suspect who escaped while being transported to the Florence County Detention Center Thursday morning was located in the afternoon by a K-9 tracking unit near the detention center.
According to the Florence County Sheriffs Office, a deputy was transporting a suspect, later identified as Mack Laron Singletary, in a patrol car to the detention center on Friendfield Road.
Singletary was able to get the door open and get out of the car even though he was handcuffed. He got himself out of the back door of the patrol car right before going into the gate of the detention center. The Sheriff's office set up a perimeter around the detention center. A K-9 team, SWAT team, Florence County Sheriff's Office helicopter, and State Law Enforcement Division helicopter searched the area.
The suspect was found hiding in the trees near the detention center by a FCSO K-9 tracking team at about 1:30 p.m., Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, Singletary was arrested after the FCSO SWAT team executed a search warrant at 250 Rosewood Drive in connection with a three-month investigation into heroin distribution in the Johnsonville area, according to a press release.
Singletary was the only person home at the time of the warrant's execution. He was allegedly found in possession of bindles of heroin and a small amount of marijuana.
He was charged with distribution of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana, the release stated.
Major Mike Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office said,
"Trafficking heroin carries a significant jail penalty, but an attempt to escape certainly doesn't bode well for a bond," said Maj. Mike Nunn with the FCSO. "Running, fleeing, escaping never makes anything better. It only makes things worse."
Nunn explained the use of the helicopters in this situation was really critical because what it does is force the suspect to go ground and hunker down, which allows the FCSO's tracking dogs to follow the track and hopefully lead straight to the suspect.
"There's always a chance and possibility the helicopters can spot the suspect from the air too," Nunn said.
Every hand was on deck to locate Singletary, which included the Florence County tracking teams, narcotics and criminal investigators, state troopers and two helicopters.
Bill Hunt lives about a mile-and-a-half from Friendfield Road where the Florence County Detention Center is. He was home while search helicopters flew overhead for hours.
"Most people in this area are ready for anything that happens. With SLED and state troopers and county and city are running up and down this street every day, someone would just be crazy to try something," Hunt said.
The FCSO said it's very rare someone is able to escape from a patrol car, but there is extensive training for a manhunt.
"It's obvious that the training pays off when the situation occurs. A job well done for our guys; we are proud of them," Nunn said.
Singletary is expected to appear at a bond hearing Friday.