FRESNO (AP) — Police are looking for a man who bolted from a Fresno County courtroom Friday after a witness identified him as a possible robbery suspect.
The bizarre incident occurred during a preliminary hearing on a home invasion case involving two of eight defendants. During a cross-examination, a female witness on the stand pointed to a man who was watching the proceedings and said he stole her television.
Mile Harris, a lawyer representing one of the two defendants, told the newspaper that the woman suddenly appeared uncomfortable and said, “’One of the people who took my TV is in court now.’”
The man rose, shouted an obscenity and ran from the courtroom, Harris said.
A Fresno County sheriff’s bailiff was unable to pursue the man because he was watching the two suspects in the hearing, Fresno Police spokesman Jaime Rios said.
A Fresno police officer, who was also at the hearing, gave chase but could not catch the man who had bolted down seven flights of courtroom stairs, across a park and through city streets, Rios said.
Police tried cordoning off nearby streets, but the man made it past the perimeter and was seen running past a McDonald’s restaurant, authorities said. He also shed a red polo shirt during his escape.
As for why the man was in the courtroom to begin with, Rios speculated that maybe “he was there to make sure the other guy didn’t rat him out and didn’t think the witness would recognize him.”
“He must have run track back in the day,” said Rios, who added that officers have a pretty good idea of his identity.