A man convicted of kidnapping and aggravated assault walked out of a Washington state jail after switching identities with a fellow inmate, triggering a manhunt by federal and local authorities, officials said on Friday.
Michael Diontae Johnson, 30, switched identities with another inmate who was scheduled to be released from a Clark County jail on Thursday, according to a statement from the local Sheriff’s Office.
His Thursday morning escape was not discovered until hours later when authorities conducted a headcount as inmates were being served meals, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office statement said.
Johnson, from Portland, Oregon, was convicted last year in Maricopa County, Arizona, of kidnapping and aggravated assault and sentenced to 24 years in prison, according to prison records.
Authorities sent him to Clark County to face charges including harassment, assault and intimidation of a witness stemming from alleged crimes in the Pacific Northwest state committed before his sentencing in Arizona, officials said.
A representative for Clark County prosecutors could not be reached for comment.
The U.S. Marshals Service has joined the search for Johnson, who was seen walking out of the jail in blue sneakers and a light jacket while holding some papers.
Authorities did not immediately release the name of the inmate whose identity Johnson is accused of assuming. But Clark County Undersheriff Mike Cooke said in a statement Johnson’s escape “required prior planning and the active cooperation of the second inmate.”
Clark County officials in their statement suggested the escape might have become easier to prevent in six weeks when they are scheduled to implement biometric screening of inmates being released.
Representatives from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office could not immediately be reached for additional comment.
Last month two accused criminals were recaptured within days of breaking out of a Seattle-area psychiatric hospital.