SNOQUALMIE, Wash. — Four of seven teenagers who remained missing after escaping from the Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie on Sunday were captured by Clark County deputies overnight, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Their ages range from 15 to 17 years old.
According to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to the report of a wanted person near Walnut Grove Park in the 6900 block of Northeast 58th Street in Vancouver.
A family member of one of the escapees called 911 to report all four of the juveniles were at their home when they returned from the store.
According to a media release, the family member told them to leave and called 911. The juveniles then left on foot.
Deputies, using unmarked cars, looked through the area and spotted them near Northeast 76th Avenue and Northeast 61st Way. The juveniles then walked into a field at Walnut Grove Elementary School.
Once the juveniles noticed law enforcement, three of them ran southbound, where they were met by deputies and Vancouver police officers. All three were taken into custody without incident.
The fourth juvenile ran back to the family member’s home, where he was found and taken into custody without incident.
All four were booked into Juvenile Detention Hall on their warrants.
On Sunday afternoon, three of the seven escaped juveniles were caught in Burien — about 30 miles from the detention center.
“And to hear that they made it all the way to here is even more scary”, said Charles, who lives in Burien.
Tuesday, those three appeared before a judge in King County’s Children and Family Justice Center. The judge says the seven children, allegedly hatched an elaborate jail break and locked an Echo Glen employee in a jail cell. He says police report it was at least an hour before that employee was found.
The Washington State Department of Youth and Families said that just after midnight on Sunday, the youth assaulted a staff member who was working the night shift during routine checks, and stole her personal belongings, including the keys to her car, a white 2018 Chevrolet Equinox.
Echo Glen staff contacted law enforcement. The campus was secured, and all other youths on the campus were accounted for.
“It’s a bit nerve-wracking,” said Maria, who lives near Echo Glen. “It happens more often than we would like, unfortunately.”
The stolen SUV was recovered shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday in Vancouver.
Washington Federation of State Employees (WSFE) is the union representing Echo Glen staff. Tuesday a union spokesperson responded to the recent incident, saying current conditions there are dangerous. In a statement, they said in part:
“Late Saturday, the group of seven residents assaulted a staff member and escaped. The juvenile residents waited for four hours in a bathroom for a member of the graveyard shift who they had previously targeted to arrive. They gave the staff member a concussion and stole their personal car. Following a similar escape last year, management at Echo Glen replaced facility cars with golf carts to discourage escapes. Staff members’ personal cars, however, are still allowed on the property, which has a residential-style entry gate.”
On May 22, an incident occurred at the gate when Echo Glen staff were leaving their shift when occupants of an unidentified car shined flashlights at the staff and burnished a gun. Management’s response to this incident was to remind staff to slow down and not tail gate at the entrance gate.”
“We work with chronic labor shortages and persistent unsafe standards leading to escalations in escapes, riots, contraband, and altercations… Echo Glen has seen six superintendents in the last two years, leading to unstable management of the facility and lack of follow through on staff concerns.”
In January 2022, five teens -- including one with a murder conviction -- escaped from the facility and stole a car. The one with a murder conviction was also among the group that escaped Sunday.
The DCYF said a Juvenile Rehabilitation Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), comprised of people from outside facility management, will be conducting a thorough review of the incident.
“Echo Glen has enhanced its safety protocols, will assess whether protocols were followed, and will assess the need for changes based on this incident alongside the CIRT,” said the DCYF.
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