Convicted felon Trevor Webb had no intention of going back to prison Thursday afternoon.
Shortly after Judge Tygh Tone sentenced him to 20 months for violating his probation a second time, Webb fled the courthouse.
The 34-year-old jumped over the third-floor courtroom railing, dashed down several flights of stairs and then out of the courthouse with Erie County Sheriff Lt. Eric Longbrake trailing behind.
"I'm so glad this is the end of the day," said Webb's attorney, Ed Rhode, after his client made a run for freedom at about 3:40 p.m.
Webb darted out the front doors, which have no one assigned to guard them because county government can't afford to hire someone, according to County Commissioner Nancy McKeen.
Erie County Sheriff Capt. Paul Sigsworth said there are one to five sheriff deputies on duty at the court house on any given day, two of which are responsible for transporting inmates and are rarely present. One extra deputy was assigned to the courthouse on Thursday because of the extra volume of cases being handled.
Sigsworth said Webb managed to elude officers for about 20 minutes before he was captured.
"They lost sight of him on Jackson Street," he said. "We received citizen reports as to where he might have been."
At one point, a deputy saw Webb crouched in a back yard on the 500 block of Huron Ave. When he was spotted, he sprinted down an alley in the 500 block of Franklin St. where he ran into Put-in-Bay Gazette owner Jeff Koehler and employee Jason Palmer, who were loading papers at the time.
After a deputy yelled at the two men to stop Webb, Koehler attempted to throw a bundle of newspapers at him while Palmer tackled him.
"I didn't really have any thoughts," Palmer said, "just stopping him."
The pursuing deputy shot Webb with a Taser gun after Webb refused to lay flat on the ground, Sigsworth said. He was hand cuffed and taken to the Erie County Jail.
Judge Roger Binette said there have been other escapees at the courthouse in recent years. He chased one down when he was a prosecutor in the mid-1990s.
Sigsworth said Webb will now face additional charges of felony escape, resisting arrest and obstructing justice.
Binette said Webb, 500 block of E. Jefferson St., is a convicted drug dealer who was released from prison on probation in May 2005.
He violated that probation once in July 2005 and again in March 2007 and was sentenced Thursday for those violations. Webb was out on bond for his probation violation before coming into court Thursday and therefore wasn't shackled.
Staff Reporter Holly Abrams contributed to this report