A full-scale search continued on Monday for an inmate who escaped from a correctional facility in Enfield over the weekend.
Officials said 25-year-old Jerry Mercado of Hartford was unaccounted for on Sunday afternoon at the medium-level Carl Robinson Correctional Institution during a routine facility count.
They provided an update on the search during an 11:30 a.m. news conference at the facility in Enfield.
"Although this investigation is very much in its infancy, we acknowledge vulnerabilities that have been identified within our security practices," Scott Semple, commissioner of the Department of Correction said.
Semple said they believe Mercado may have escaped in a vehicle.
"There was no physical breach in the fence line and we believe a motor vehicle was involved," he said. "There are vehicles on the grounds of the facility that were doing routine work and there's also another vehicle to provide garbage collection. We are in the midst of evaluating that now."
Semple said it could have either been the state vehicle or the garbage truck.
"We have a fairly good idea of the circumstances, we just need to validate the information we have at hand," he said. "We need to get some confirmation on a few things."
He described Mercado as standing 5'4", weighing about 140 pounds and having black hair with brown eyes.
"Mercado has a visible tattoo in his left temple area," Semple said. "And a large tattoo on the right side of his neck that reads 'time waits for no one.'"
Semple said they believe he's in the Hartford area.
"He did not breach the outer perimeter of the fence line and we believe that a motor vehicle was involved," Semple said.
Sunday, the facility was placed on lockdown and local and state police were notified. Enfield residents said they received an alert about the escaped inmate. In it, police warned them not to approach him.
"Protocols were immediately enacted and which included ceasing all movement at the facility and going into a lockdown mode and notifying local and state police of the security breach," Semple said.
Channel 3 was told that Mercado was last seen around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. State police said Mercado was noticed to be missing during a routine headcount at the prison around 3 p.m.
Semple said they believe Mercado stowed away underneath a state-owned maintenance van or garbage truck that had been on the prison grounds around noontime.
"He did not drive a vehicle," Semple said. "We're examining the potential that he was a stowaway underneath the infrastructure of the vehicle itself."
Mercado was sentenced on Aug. 2016 to three years in prison for burglary. He was scheduled to be released in Jan. 2019.
"This is the first sentence term of incarceration in this escapees history. Jerry Mercado is classified as a low-level felon," Semple said.
Channel 3 did some digging on Mercado's criminal history. According to the state's judicial website, Mercado was also convicted of stealing a firearm and interfering with an officer/resisting arrest. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation in 2012.
One he is found, the spokesperson for the Department of Correction said Mercado will face criminal charges for escaping.
Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact state police in Hartford.
Carl Robinson Correctional Institution is a level 3 medium security that opened in 1987 and the last escape they had was in 1992. There are 311 staff members work at the Enfield prison. As of December 2017, it housed 1434 inmates.
The prison is named after Carl Robinson, who was the first African American warden in Connecticut.
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