MAYS LANDING, N.J. — A teenage murder suspect who escaped from a juvenile detention center on Wednesday with three others was armed when he was taken into custody Thursday morning in an Atlantic City apartment, said Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner.
Michael Huggins, 18, of Bridgeton, who was indicted for murder by a Cumberland County grand jury in September, fled from Harborfields, a juvenile facility in Egg Harbor City, about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. The other three teens were captured on Wednesday in Bridgeton. Tyner said authorities believe the escape was planned and "not a spur of the moment" decision.
Police tracked three of the suspects — Donovan Nickerson, Raymir Lampkin, and Stephine Woodley — to an apartment complex in Bridgeton, where they were taken into custody within about 10 hours of breaking out of the detention center.
But Huggins, who is charged with the October 2016 murder of DeVante Lee, 21, of Bridgeton, during a robbery down the street from where the suspect had been living, remained on the lam for 24 hours and was found in an apartment along the 100 block of North South Carolina Avenue around 10:30 a.m.
Police said Huggins had a handgun in his possession but was taken into custody without incident by officers from the Atlantic County Sheriff's Office, the New Jersey State Police, and U.S. Marshals Service — who found the other occupants inside the home "cooperative" when they arrived, Tyner said. The prosecutor said it was unclear how Huggins obtained the weapon but added it was not a police service revolver.
Huggins has been charged with escaping a correctional facility, assault on a law enforcement officer, illegal possession of a firearm, and conspiracy in connection with the incident, Tyner said. The prosecutor declined comment on why an 18-year-old murder suspect had been housed in the juvenile facility.
Tyner also declined to say exactly how the teenagers apparently overtook an undisclosed number of corrections officers when the escape occurred. He did say that one of the officers was injured during the incident and was treated at a hospital. The group apparently stole keys and a personal vehicle belonging to one of the officers, which they drove for several blocks from the center, sideswiping a parked Jeep, before abandoning the car.
Tyner declined to offer a timeline for the incident or say exactly how the group made it from Egg Harbor City 35 miles to Bridgeton — and whether Huggins was ever in Bridgeton or when he made his way to Atlantic City. He noted that the details of the incident are still under investigation. He also would not comment on whether charges against any additional accomplices may be forthcoming.
Because of the escape — which sparked a massive manhunt across two counties — school was called off on Wednesday for more than 15,000 students in Atlantic County. A normal class schedule resumed on Thursday, officials said.