ASHEVILLE — With no shoes and while drinking a Gatorade, an escaped inmate who eluded police overnight in South Asheville was captured Thursday morning.
Michael Lee Calloway was apprehended about 9:44 a.m. when he was spotted sitting outside a doctor's office in Biltmore Park, Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan told reporters just minutes after Calloway was apprehended.
Police believe he stayed within a four-mile radius of a Biltmore Forest medical office, where he escaped custody Wednesday afternoon.
As many as 100 officers from multiple agencies were on duty during the search, Duncan said.
"We did everything from flying a drone with infrared to doing some house-to-house checks last night," he said. "I think it gave him very limited ability and limited opportunity to get in and even find a vehicle to get him out of the area."
When he escaped about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Calloway was near the area of 1117 Hendersonville Road in Asheville for a medical appointment. Duncan said he was there to undergo "some sort of procedure" and officers had removed shackles and other restraints.
Calloway is accused of assaulting an officer by grabbing her head and trying to hit her head on the ground before fleeing.
Duncan told reporters that police received dozens of calls during the search. They believe a reported sighting of Calloway at 3 p.m. Wednesday, about a mile from US 25 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Mountains-To-Sea trail, is credible.
It's unclear whether Calloway knew he was outside of a doctor's office when he was captured, Duncan said. He was spotted by Biltmore Park security.
"The public was very vigilant," Duncan said. "When you have somebody with this criminal history, that's exactly what we want."
Calloway was arrested in May and September and was charged with being a habitual felon, according to online sheriff's records. Additional charges were listed, including larceny of a motor vehicle and breaking and entering, both felonies.
He was scheduled to appear in court next year.
PREVIOUS | Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan is urging residents in the Hendersonville Road and Deerfield areas to lock doors and take other precautions, saying an escaped inmate who assaulted an officer Tuesday is a "public safety risk" and has a "violent history."
Duncan held a brief press conference at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Asheville's Fire Station 5 on Hendersonville Road.
It was less than half a mile from the doctor's office where Michael Lee Calloway escaped four hours earlier.
"I want to stress to the public we do consider him to be a public safety risk because of his record," Duncan said.
That includes armed robbery, first-degree burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.
The sheriff said they did not believe Calloway is armed but said, "he does have a violent history.
"We know because of his history he will break into a house. He can be violent and assault people."
Schools in the Roberson District in South Asheville, including Roberson High, were on temporary lockdown during the early afternoon Wednesday. The lockdown was lifted shortly after 3:20 p.m.
People should keep doors locked, "have good situational awareness" and keep cell phones nearby, Duncan said. They should also use any personal safety plans they have in place and call 911 if they need help, he said.
Along with urging caution, the sheriff asked anyone who has information that could help locate Calloway to call the sheriff's office at 828-250-6670.
Calloway, 42, is a white male, six feet and one inch in height and weighing 175 pounds. He has long, salt-and-pepper colored hair, a reddish beard and blue eyes, and was last seen wearing a brown Buncombe County Detention Facility jumpsuit and socks.
The transport deputy contacted the sheriff's office at about 1:30 p.m. saying Calloway had escaped near the area of 1117 Hendersonville Road in Asheville.
Calloway had been transported to a medical appointment and officers removed shackles and other restraints, the sheriff said. He assaulted an officer by grabbing her head and trying to "hit her head on the ground," he said.
That gave him enough time to escape.
The officer was evaluated and is "OK," the sheriff said.
Duncan declined to talk about the medical procedure or what the medical office was where the incident happened. The office was on the west side of Hendersonville Road, the same side as Biltmore Forest, he said.
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The sheriff also wouldn't say what the perimeter was that officers had established, saying he didn't want Calloway to get that information in case he has access to media reports.
Asked how many officers were involved in the search, he said, "a bunch, with more on the way."
Along with deputies, Asheville police officers were visible in cars along various points of Hendersonville Road in the evening.
The sheriff said he didn't know Calloway's latest charges, but understood he may have escaped before.
Records show the incident was not Calloway's first assault on a public employee and that he had in fact escaped from prison in the last decade.
Calloway was arrested in May and September and charged with being a habitual felon, according to online sheriff's records. The records showed a next court date of Jan. 1 and listed other charges as larceny of a motor vehicle and breaking and entering, both felonies, as well as larceny after breaking and entering.
The total bond amount for Calloway listed by the county is $100,000.
North Carolina Department of Public Safety records show a long list of offenses starting in 1993 in Buncombe when he was convicted of driving with a permanently revoked license.
Others include assault, driving while impaired, breaking and entering, robbery with a dangerous weapon, hit and run and defrauding an innkeeper.
Listed among several 2003 offenses was assaulting emergency personnel.
On July 3, 2014, Calloway escaped from prison. He was later caught and convicted.
His latest escape happens less than four months from when another habitual offender, Phillip Michael Stroupe II, led police on a six-day manhunt starting in Pisgah National Forest and allegedly kidnapped and murdered a Mills River man, Thomas A. Bryson, 68.
"That is all fresh in everybody’s memory," Duncan said. "We are not going to leave until we have him in custody."
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