Four inmates, including a man charged with murder, are on the run from authorities after escaping a central Georgia jail through a damaged second-floor window and getting through the perimeter fences, according to authorities.
The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office said the inmates escaped from the Bibb County Detention Center in Macon, about 84 miles southeast of Atlanta, around 3 a.m. Monday, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office said.
The four climbed through a broken day room window and through a cut fence, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff David Davis told reporters someone driving a blue Dodge Challenger in the parking lot near the fence appeared to aid the escape.
“(There is) some video footage of a vehicle that had been there earlier in the evening, that looked like they had been tampering with the fence, as well as bringing some items into the enclosed area of the fence that we believe were used by these inmates to escape,” Davis said at a news conference Monday.
The FBI is now working with local law enforcement and the US Marshals Service to track down the four inmates, the agency’s Atlanta office said.
One of the escapees is Joey Fournier, 52, who is accused of murder. The others are Marc Kerry Anderson, 24, accused of aggravated assault, and Chavis Demaryo Stokes, 29, accused of possession of a firearm and drug trafficking, the sheriff’s office said.
The fourth escapee, Johnifer Dernard Barnwell, 37, was detained for the US Marshals after being convicted on federal charges related to the “armed distribution of large quantities of drugs,” officials from the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia said in a news release.
Investigators are still looking at footage recorded as the blue car parked and waited near the jail fence, the sheriff said. It is unclear whether the inmates got into the car.
“We saw them run away, the car was in the parking lot and then it left, then we see the inmates escape,” Davis said. “So we don’t know if they got into that car, maybe got into a different car.”
There were “less than 10 people” working at the jail when the escape happened, Davis said. The department has started to make some staffing changes at the facility, he added.
An internal investigation is examining how the inmates got out of their cells and into a day room – a common area for inmates during indoor recreational periods – that might not have been locked because inmates were supposed to be sleeping.
It doesn’t appear the inmates knew each other before they were detained in the jail, the sheriff said, adding three of the four had been in the jail “several times before.”
The escape began in the oldest part of the 43-year-old facility, he added.
The sheriff’s office is asking for the public’s help in locating the four men and have set up a tip line at 478-751-7500. Those with information can also call the Macon Regional Crime Stoppers at 877-682-7463.
Rewards totaling $73,000 have been offered for information leading to the inmates’ capture, including from the FBI in Atlanta, the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, the US Marshals Service and the Macon Regional Crime Stoppers, the FBI announced Wednesday in a news release.
The reward money includes $10,000 the FBI is offering for the capture of Barnwell.
The escapes caused 38 schools and programs in the Bibb County School District to go on a “precautionary lockdown” Monday, according to district officials. Outdoor activity is limited during a precautionary lockdown but classroom instruction continues.
“At this time, there are no plans to continue the precautionary lockdown tomorrow, but the District will remain in communication with(the sheriff’s office) for any further alerts and updates,” officials said in a news release.
There were more than 21,000 students in the district in 2021-2022, according to the US Department of Education.
CNN’s Isabel Rosales contributed to this report.