- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

An Oxon Hill High School student arrested in the stabbing of a schoolmate last week also faces an escape charge after he unscrewed the handcuff bolting him to a wall in a police interview room, climbed into the ceiling, and fell into the clerk's office, Prince George's County, Md. police said.
Investigators had handcuffed James A. Brewer, 15, to a cinder-block wall before they left an interview room at the District 4 station in Oxon Hill on Oct. 23.
Left alone, the youth climbed into the ceiling and crawled about 15 feet before trying to stand up and walk, police said. As he attempted to walk, the panel a ceiling panel over the clerk's office collapsed, spilling him onto a desk and then on the floor.
Two officers immediately recaptured the Brewer youth, who was still wearing the handcuff and its attachments. But he was only an unlocked door away from freedom, said Maj. Patrick Richards, who runs the District 4 station. The teen-ager was not injured in the fall.
A clerk who was in the office said she was puzzled when she heard the loud noise overhead.
"I was speaking to one of the officers and he asked me, 'What's that?'" said the clerk, who didn't want to give her name. "I told him, 'That must be a big … rat.'"
Earlier that morning, the Brewer youth stabbed a 16-year-old Oxon Hill student "about eight times in the upper chest area" with a 3-inch folding knife, court charging documents state. The Brewer youth and the other student had been feuding since the beginning of the school year, the documents state.
The 16-year-old was transported by Maryland State Police helicopter to Prince George's Hospital with a collapsed lung and other injuries, police said. They did not release his condition, but the teen-ager is expected to recover fully.
The Brewer youth, of Forest Heights, was charged with attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, and first-degree escape. His next court date is scheduled for late November, according to the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office. He will be tried as an adult, and is being held without bond.
Jacqueline P. Byrd-Tillman, an Upper Marlboro-based attorney representing the Brewer youth, said she is not sure what plea will be entered at the arraignment.
County police are investigating the incident at the District 4 station, which the department moved into in late June, Maj. Richards said.
"I still don't know how he did that. We use a drop ceiling unfortunately, and he got in there and he just didn't get as far as he wanted," Maj. Richards said. "The ceiling of our station is being fixed as we speak."
County police have prohibited suspect interviews at the Oxon Hill station since the incident, said Cpl. Tony Walker, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 89.
Officers must transport suspects to the District 5 station in Clinton, he said, but witnesses and victims still can be interviewed at the District 4 station.
"It's funny now," said the clerk, who has worked in police and corrections for more than 25 years. "I've never had anything like that happen before. Never," she said.


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