Escaped inmate Harry Chandler apprehended in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — They spent three days — and three sleepless nights — searching for Harry Chandler, and they pursued "hundreds" of tips.

On Thursday, officers got the tip they were hoping for.

Chandler, who had escaped custody Monday afternoon, was captured safely by officers at 3 Robbins Ave. shortly after 2 p.m.

"Having this positive end result brings a lot of anxiety to rest," Sheriff Thomas Bowler said Thursday afternoon, surrounded by a ring of smiling law enforcement officials. "And it feels good."

During a news conference at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction, Bowler said it had been a stressful 72 hours.

Since Monday's escape, dozens of officers representing multiple law enforcement agencies had been scouring the city in search of Chandler, who slipped away from Berkshire Medical Center after overpowering a deputy with the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office. Chandler has a black belt in judo.

After police received Thursday's tip, at least two dozen officers from the Sheriff's Office, Pittsfield Police Department and other agencies descended on the Robbins Avenue home, Bowler said.

Chandler was known to residents of the home, and officers regularly had checked the address since Monday, Bowler said.

Chandler's hair had since been cut, and his face shaved.

Handcuffed and wearing a hooded sweatshirt, Chandler was flanked by multiple officers as he was led from the house. He did not resist arrest.

"He was tired," Bowler said.

Someone who identified themselves as a member of Chandler's family said Thursday in a social media post that Chandler had called law enforcement officials and turned himself in, but Bowler said that wasn't the case.

"He personally did not reach out to any officer," he said.

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Mayor Linda Tyer said the news offers relief for residents on edge. "There was certainly some anxiety about this situation," she said.

She said city staff worked to support members of the Sheriff's Office in their search.

"The Pittsfield Police Department played a significant role in the partnership, with all of the other law enforcement agencies, to bring this to a resolution," she said.

Asked whether the office would be paying a reward for the capture, Bowler said: "We'd have to look into that a little bit more."

Chandler initially was arrested last week on a warrant and had been in the hospital until Monday, receiving treatment for infections in his hands. His recent charges include drug possession, multiple counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, breaking and entering and failure to register as a sex offender.

Chandler faces additional charges related to his escape, Bowler said, including assault and battery on a correctional officer.

At the time of his escape, Chandler was changing out of hospital garments and was about to be discharged. He was not shackled or cuffed at the time.

Bowler said he'll reconsider protocol based on the incident.

"We'll take a look at that based on what took place here," he said.

Bowler apologized to the community for the ordeal, and also expressed his appreciation.

"We would like to thank all of the law enforcement agencies that assisted with the search and capture, as well as Berkshire Health Systems for their cooperation with the investigation and the general public for all of the information provided," the office said in a statement.

Bowler said the office also received help from the Massachusetts State Police, the Western Massachusetts Gang Task Force, the Hampden County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, New York State Police, Connecticut State Police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and local police departments in Dalton, Lanesborough, Lee and Lenox, as well as others across the New York state line.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296. 


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