UNION COUNTY — A state prisoner who escaped custody by jumping out of a bathroom window of the Union County Courthouse Friday afternoon was recaptured late Sunday night after being found hiding in a makeshift bed under an abandoned house in the Monarch area of Union.
Brent Tyson Austin, 41, of Jonesville, is a prisoner of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC). Austin was at the Union County Courthouse on Friday for a hearing when, shortly after noon, he escaped, reportedly by jumping out a bathroom window to the parking lot below. He then stole a vehicle described by the Sheriff’s Office as a 2000 Dodge Dakota Extended Cab Pickup Truck, SC Tag # GWT 404 with the word “Intimidator” in red letters written across the front windshield.
While the vehicle Austin stole was found later that afternoon at a residence at the corner of Jonesville-Lockhart Highway below Pineland Road and the Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 Unit was called to the scene to track him, Austin continued to evade authorities the rest of the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office was announcing that a reward of up to $3,000 could be offered for information leading to Austin’s recapture.
Less than six hours later, however, the Sheriff’s Office announced that shortly before 11 p.m. that evening Austin had been taken into custody in Union County by Sheriff’s deputies and SLED agents. While the press release did not provide any further information about Austin’s recapture, it did promise that Sheriff David Taylor would release more details later.
Those details were released this afternoon when Taylor announced that deputies and SLED agents had found Austin hiding under an abandoned house at 221 Hancock Street, Union on Sunday at 10:55 p.m. Taylor said that deputies from both Union and Chester counties, SLED agents, SCDC Escape Unit Officers, SC Highway Patrol troopers, and Union Public Safety Department officers had been searching for Austin since his escape on Friday.
On Saturday, Taylor said information was obtained that Austin was seen on Lakeside Drive, which was confirmed and with that officers knew he was still in the Monarch area of Union County. Taylor said that law enforcement personnel concentrated heavily on the Monarch area on Sunday, making contact with known associates of Austin and inquiring as to whether they had seen or talked with him.
Late Sunday night, Taylor said law enforcement personnel got the break they needed when they got information that Austin was hiding under an abandoned house on Hancock Street in the Monarch area of Union. Taylor said the house was identified and law enforcement personnel converged on the house and found Austin hiding in a makeshift-type bed with blankets. He said Austin was taken into custody without incident, and was found to be tired and hungry.
Taylor said Austin was transported to the Union County Jail to await transport to the South Carolina Department of Corrections on Monday morning. He said no bond hearing was held for Austin because he is already a sentenced inmate with the South Carolina Department of Corrections, where he will remain until his day in court.
Personnel from a total of six law enforcement agencies — Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union Public Safety Department, Chester County Sheriff’s Office, SC Highway Patrol, South Carolina Department of Corrections, and SLED — took part in the search for Austin. Taylor thanked them all for working non- stop on this case until Austin was arrested.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.