Officers searching for suspect who escaped from the back of patrol unit in Verdigris

Officers searching for suspect who escaped from the back of patrol unit in Verdigris
A mug shot of Robert J. Friend from July of 2017.

VERDIGRIS, Okla. — Verdigris police said they are searching for a “career criminal” by the name of Robert Friend, 39, who escaped police custody on Tuesday afternoon.

Officers say it started around 3 p.m. when police responded to a call with a U-Haul truck involved in a hit-and-run accident in Verdigris.

When officers arrived on scene they said the U-Haul truck and its driver was not there.

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Later around 4:30 p.m. officers reportedly received a call saying witnesses spotted the U-Haul truck at the Casey’s General Store.

Police said they responded and found the driver, Robert Friend, at the general store. When police tried to talk to him, he reportedly took off running.

Officers and people at the gas station chased after Friend, quickly caught him, and then reportedly took him into police custody.

Friend was double locked in handcuffs and seat belted into the rear of a patrol car, securely, said police.

Once police investigated the scene and returned to the patrol car to take Friend to jail, the situation took a quick turn.

Police said they went to open the car door and when they did, Friend got out and took off running towards the woods. They said he was able to move his handcuffed hands from behind his back, to the front of him, take off his shoes and unbuckle himself before running.

Police said they set up a perimeter but were not able to find him.

Friend has reportedly to have just gotten out of jail this year, a career criminal in Tulsa and Rogers County, and a violent felon.

Officers say he was last seen handcuffed and also goes by the nickname “BJ.”

If you have any information, please call police.