Police capture Bellevue escapee in Renton

by: Natasha Chen Updated:

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BELLEVUE, Wash. —

An escapee who police have been looking for since January was caught Friday in Renton, police said.

According to police, 21-year-old Wendell Downs was one of two inmates in a van that arrived at the Bellevue District Court on Jan. 31.

Bellevue police said Downs escaped from the van and got in another vehicle, which fled the scene.

Authorities said Downs was driven away by his 20-year-old girlfriend, Tanjanique Hillis, in a blue Ford Crown Victoria.

Police said Downs was being held on several charges, including theft, robbery and organized retail theft. He was supposed to appear at the Bellevue courthouse for a suspended license charge when he fled in shackles.

After weeks of searching, Bellevue police captured Downs shortly after noon Friday.

Bellevue police would not comment on the details of the chase and arrest. With the help of other agencies, including Renton police, they caught Downs in the 1800 block of Duvall Avenue, in Renton.

An officer told neighbor Bobbie Crinzi they had chased Downs in his car.

“He jumped out of the car, and he ran in there, then he ran over the fences,” Crinzi said.

Gina Lorimor showed KIRO 7 how her neighbor’s backyard fence was knocked down during the foot chase.

Downs eventually led police to Lorimor’s front lawn.

“I heard a lot of screaming and yelling, and I thought, 'My neighbor’s not home. What is happening?' I looked out the upper window and saw a struggle down here,” Lorimor said.

She said she saw the Downs trying to hurt the officer in plainclothes. Soon, dozens of squad cars arrived in her cul-de-sac, and one officer on a motorcycle even rode right up her lawn to help.

“My bathroom window was open, and so I thought he may try and jump through the window; hide out. So I closed that and locked it,” Lorimor said.

She had no idea the man they tackled was a dangerous criminal.

The King County prosecutor’s office said Hillis appeared at court for an arraignment on Feb. 18. She was booked into jail on a $50,000 bond. She made bail and was released on Feb. 24.

Downs is now at the King County Jail on felony escape charges, with additional charges pending.