Search continues for inmate who escaped from custody at Pittsfield hospital

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PITTSFIELD — Law enforcement officials have so far been unable to locate an inmate who escaped custody Monday.

Harry Chandler, who has a black belt in judo, overpowered a deputy with the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office upon release from treatment at Berkshire Medical Center. The escape triggered an ongoing city search, which has, at times, included use of a state police helicopter.

"Still a lot of tips coming in via cellphone and social media," said Lt. Col. Thomas Grady of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office. "But no luck yet."

Chandler was arrested last week on a warrant and had been in the hospital since then, receiving treatment for infections in his hands. Sheriff Thomas Bowler said 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's sister, Carrie Chandler, said in a Facebook post that her brother is losing the battle against addiction. The disease drove him to "become of a shell of himself," she said.

"He is in the wrong, and I hope he gets quickly and safely apprehended and gets the help he needs," she said. "But he is also someone's son, brother, father and loved one."

She implored her little brother to turn himself in, and from the public she asked for respect for the family — her father was inundated with hateful messages and was admitted to a hospital with chest pains, she said.

"Please think before you post about how you would hope a family member in the same situation would be treated," she said.

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

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