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Claude Pepper Elem. Reopen After Police Capture Escaped Prisoner

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South Florida Crime

WEST KENDALL (CBSMiami) – A man who escaped from police custody, which led to the closure of a West Kendall elementary school, was recaptured after a nearly four hour search Thursday morning.

The intense police search for the suspect led to the shutdown of Claude Pepper Elementary, located at 14550 SW 96th Street in West Kendall and parents were asked to drop their children off at Oliver Hoover Elementary due to the police activity in the area.

However, Miami-Dade police confirmed the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Jeremy Rojas, was recaptured at SW 142nd Avenue and 100th Street just after 8:00 a.m.

Rojas, police said, was originally taken into custody on a drug charge around 3:49 a.m. During the transport to the Hammocks Police Station, he managed to escape from the police vehicle while he was still handcuffed. The cruiser was in the police station’s back parking lot and Rojas headed for a nearby neighborhood.

There was a perimeter set up which included Claude Pepper Elementary.

Police searched for Rojas on the ground and in the air but it was a police dog which ultimately apprehended him.

“This is the first time we have had something like this,” said neighbor Mildred Estol. “It was pretty exciting I guess.”

Estol witnessed the end of the police hunt after she had just dropped off her oldest child at school.

She said it played out like a movie.

“I saw someone sticking his head out of that fence doing like this and after that I heard someone screaming ‘he is here he is here’ and then after that all of the police went straight to the back,” she explained.

Estol witnessed it all from her window but didn’t dare go outside. Others did take a peek outside and were shocked and a bit concerned to find out an intensive manhunt had ended right in front of their homes.

“Well that does concern me because the fact is that you wouldn’t think anybody on foot would be able to get that far in that length of time you know? They usually get ‘em with the chopper,” said another person.

“I woke up this morning and was like, ‘what the freak is up with this helicopter flying around my house’ and I got out and then was like, ‘oh crap’, the whole school is shut down and everything, so it was pretty crazy,” said another neighbor.

All students and teachers at Claude Pepper Elementary were transferred to a staging area at Oliver Hoover Elementary but once Rojas was back in police custody, the perimeter was lifted and the school was reopened for staff and students.

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