Taaqi "Fame" Brown's bit of freedom came to an end with his surrender Tuesday amid questions about how the murder suspect - being held without bail, under a 22-hour a day lockdown, and wearing a special red prison jumpsuit that identified him as a high-risk inmate - was allowed to walk out the front door of the Delaware County prison.
Brown, 21, of Philadelphia's Germantown section, got his walking papers late Monday at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton and rode off in a black SUV with an unidentified woman, county officials said. He surrendered just after 12:30 p.m. to Philadelphia police.
A frustrated G. Michael Green, Delaware County district attorney, said he had been told by prison officials that because of a paperwork error, Brown was confused with another inmate with a similar name.
"I want to know everything that happened here," Green said, calling Brown "extremely dangerous."
Community Education Centers Inc. of West Caldwell, N.J., has run the prison since January 2009.
In an e-mailed statement, prison officials said that they were reviewing Monday's "events" and that the company's "operational track record has been exceptional."
Repeated requests for interviews by The Inquirer were ignored. Calls to the warden, Frank Green, were not returned. John A. Reilly Jr., the county's prison superintendent, also did not return calls.
John Whelan, chairman of the Delaware County Council, said the county would review procedures with Community Education Centers to ensure that the breach was not repeated.
"This type of mistake is unacceptable," Whelan said.
Brown, whose last home was in the 100 block of West Wyneva Street, was awaiting trial in the May 2, 2009, killing of Aaron Kearney, 19, who was shot dead in front of about 100 people on an Upper Darby playground. Police say a friend of Kearney's was the intended target.
"Our guy . . . is told he is going to be released at 9 o'clock, and gets someone to pick him up," said Michael J. Chitwood, Upper Darby's police superintendent. "About an hour later, they discovered they released the wrong guy."
Law enforcement agencies in three states were notified of the release of Brown, who now faces charges of escape. Upper Darby police, Delaware County detectives, Philadelphia police, and the U.S. Marshals Service were involved in the search.
Chitwood said Brown's father called Northwest Detectives just after noon Tuesday to say his son feared police would kill him. Detectives said Brown would be safe if he gave himself up.
The fatal 2009 shooting occurred about 5 p.m. at the Second Ward Playground, near Greenwood and Crosley Avenues in Upper Darby's Stonehurst section.
Police said they believed Brown and codefendant Thomas "Nef" Gregory were angry about the theft of drugs from a Long Lane stash house and believed Kearney's friend was responsible.
An oral and physical argument, in which Kearney defended his friend, escalated, and one of the alleged assailants fired 11 shots. Only Kearney was hit.