Three guards injured during escape attempt at Juvenile Justice Center

Early Saturday morning two teens tried to escape from the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center.

The incident was brief and unsuccessful, but only now do court documents reveal how brutal it was.

Three guards were injured during the escape attempt. All three were hospitalized for head wounds. According to court documents, one guard suffered a severe concussion and had difficulty speaking with investigators.

“Well there was a considerable amount of violence, there was a lot of blood spilled and as I say there were serious injuries,” said Judge Peter Nemeth of the St. Joseph County Probate Court.

The ‘serious’ injuries have now resulted in serious criminal charges in the case. Each teen faces a half dozen counts, including robbery, kidnapping, and escape and battery. Two of the counts are considered Class A Felonies.

According to court documents the teens first ambushed one guard in the shower area. That guard was bound and gagged using sheets.

A second guard went to check on the first guard when he was ambushed and hit on the head with his own radio.

By the time a third guard was on scene, the teens had obtained metal table legs to use as weapons.

Court documents say that the teens made several threats to kill the guards. Those threats convinced other detention center staff members to get the teens away from the fallen guards—by letting them out of a pod and into a courtyard.

“The fact that it happened concerns me the most,” said Nemeth. “The fact that our people were injured, I think that in terms of talking about the details, I don't wish to do that because people who may end up being held here may learn something from it. I just as soon we were the only ones that learn from the incident.”

Once in the courtyard the teens piled up picnic tables to reach the roof. They jumped from the roof and began to flee, but were quickly apprehended by officers from the South Bend Police Department.

The teens have been identified as 17-year old Robert Sonneborn, Jr., and 18-year old Marcus Winphrie, both of South Bend.

Court documents do not indicate why the two were being held at the Juvenile Justice Center.

The injured detention officers are identified as James Schmieder, Justin Karling, and Christopher Lyle.


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