BY BRENDAN LYONS
Courtesy of Times Union
ALBANY -- When Patrick Landers saw a helicopter overhead and unmarked police cars racing through his Pine Hills neighborhood Monday afternoon, his thoughts drifted to his wife and kids at home a few blocks away.
"I knew something was up," he said.
Then a buddy told him about the guy who'd just escaped from nearby Albany Medical Center Hospital. Landers, a city firefighter for 17 years, was on his cellphone immediately.
He called his wife, Bea. She was at baseball practice with their teenage son, a block from home. Their 12-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter were at the Park Avenue residence studying, she told him.
"I just had a gut feeling," Landers said.
The kids were fine, but Landers met his wife there and asked her to take them back to the ball field as a precaution.
He stayed behind and looked around, but found nothing suspicious. He was about to walk out the door when it hit him. An ashtray that his wife always leaves in the foyer was gone. She goes out there to smoke, away from the kids.
Landers started up the stairs of their two-family home. They own the whole building, but have been living on the first floor while he renovates the upstairs.
He dialed his wife again as he climbed. Then he spied a brass lock. It was next to his table saw, in the middle of the upstairs living area. "Yale" was stamped on the side and it looked old-style, government issued. He found the ashtray, dumped on the floor of a bathroom.
"It sort of confirmed my suspicions," he said.
A walk-in closet in a large bedroom was the last place Landers looked. Rimell Mitchell, who is serving a sentence of 21 years to life for a robbery and murder in Queens, was on the other side of the door. He'd managed to break his shackles and was clutching a 20-inch framing hammer. Landers pushed open the door.
About an hour earlier, Mitchell had been under guard in a stand-alone building at Albany Medical Center Hospital. State prison inmates are shuttled in and out of the brick building for treatment, and Mitchell had been brought there early Monday from Upstate Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison near the Canadian border in Malone.
Mitchell, 26, was never alone, but the layout of the building apparently left him out of sight of the correction officer watching him. He climbed through a ceiling tile and scurried along the roof to make his escape, according to law enforcement sources.
In a parking garage nearby, Mitchell tried to overpower a driver. He then broke into an empty car and stole a cellphone. Authorities think he managed to shuffle across the sprawling hospital complex -- still shackled -- before making his way into Landers' home a couple blocks away.
Mitchell's had so many scuffles in prison over the past five years -- attacking guards and other inmates, officials said -- that he's scheduled to be held in a special housing unit until at least 2010.
But he was no match for Landers, a former Coast Guardsman who can bench press 400 pounds and left more than his share of sweat and blood on the gridiron and wrestling mats at Albany High School.
When the scuffle started, Landers was still holding his cellphone, unaware his wife was on the other end. He threw a punch into Mitchell and quickly smothered him on the floor. As he lay on top, Landers dialed his friend, Albany Police Officer John Coleman, hoping he was in the neighborhood.
He and his wife both then called a police dispatcher.
Sirens resounded across the neighborhood. Landers said he could feel Mitchell getting restless in his grip. The inmate pleaded with him for freedom.
Finally, Landers said he pulled a utility knife off his belt and held it to Mitchell's throat, slowly walking him downstairs and into the waiting arms of cops.
Landers was reluctant to share his story Tuesday, but city leaders summoned him to a news conference.
James B. Flateau, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said Mitchell was returned to prison and faces criminal charges in connection with the incident. Investigators are still piecing together what went wrong, he said.
"We've had a long and positive relationship with Albany Med, and we will investigate what happened here to ensure it doesn't happen again," Flateau said.
After Mitchell was recaptured, Landers found out he'd had a box cutter hidden in his pocket and had been wearing a jean jacket that belongs to Landers' oldest son.
"After it was all over, it was kind of anti-climactic," said Landers, 43. "I was like, now what do I do?"
police officer, firefighter, it's all the same right?
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04-27-2005, 10:57 PM #1
New York Firefighter Nabs Escapee
Last edited by DrParasite; 04-27-2005 at 10:59 PM.If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!
04-27-2005, 11:09 PM #2
I saw this earlier........... Nice grab and way to be on your toes!!The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
04-27-2005, 11:14 PM #3
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- Salem, Massachusetts
There goes another Firefighter trying to be a cop. (TeeHee ) Good post.Caffeine is the key to motivation!
04-27-2005, 11:44 PM #4
In the wise words of Burt Gummer...
"Broke in the wrong god d@mn rec room didn't you, ya son of a (#*&$."
Way to kick *** and regulate. I can't help but notice that his arm is the size of my neck. Perhaps he should moonlight as a corrections officer?Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
04-27-2005, 11:51 PM #5
I wonder if the convict saw his life flash before his eyes when he saw Landers? Definitely not a guy I would be messing with.ullrichk
a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for
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