7:30 p.m. June 23 Update: ADC spokeswoman says initial reports about the possible hostage situation Saturday night or that Buffington may have a backpack of ammo have not been confirmed by her agency. So if you see those items in our earlier updates, keep in mind that the Department of Corrections has not confirmed that info.
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10 a.m. June 23 Update: Department of Corrections Shea Wilson: “Right now we are concentrated in an area off of Claud Road and we are dragging that area making sure we haven’t missed anything. So there was a report of a shot being fired (earlier Monday morning), so we’re just checking it out … of course it could be anything, so we are just checking that out and making sure it’s not our guy.” Wilson said dogs and horseback units are being used as part of the effort to heavily comb that area again today.
Wilson said the search so far has been a ground search. The state police helicopter hasn’t been called out yet, because there has not been a sighting of Buffington since Saturday night (see earlier reports for details).
“If we get a sighting, a good sighting possibility, we will seek additional help,” Wilson said, referring to an air search or other logistical/technical tactics. State police and other agencies have been helping the whole time with the ground search, she added.
In addition to the area around the prison, the search is still being conducted in areas where he has ties and points in between, she said. People close to him who might know his whereabouts have been interviewed.
As for what people in the public should do, the message is the same: “Exercise caution. If you see anything suspicious, call your local law enforcement and don’t forget that he is very likely armed,” Wilson said, adding that she appreciates the public’s help keeping an eye out and all the tips that have come in so far.
6:30 p.m. Update: Department of Corrections spokeswoman Shea Wilson said law enforcement are continuing to search in the Pine Bluff area around the prison in areas she described as very dense and wooded. They have also expanded the search area to where Buffington was from — the Booneville area — and points in between. They are also reaching out to other law enforcement agencies and keeping them abreast of new developments.
“We don’t have any reason to believe he has left the area but we’re not ruling anything out,” she said.
Buffington has been in prison since 1999 and was disciplinary-incident free that whole time. He became a trusty in 2003 and up until last night had not been a problem, she said. They have no idea what prompted the escape, but once they get him back in custody, they will try to explore the how and why. Right now public safety and getting him back into custody is their top priority, she said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911. Buffington is considered armed and dangerous. Do not approach.
4 p.m. Update: Readers reported seeing searchers at Car Mart on Blake Street earlier in the afternoon. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Shea Wilson said: “We got a call about suspicious activity there but it was not our guy.”
12:30 p.m. Update: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies are no longer involved in the actual search for the escaped inmate, but instead are conducting security checks at residences in the Princeton Pike/Claud Road area, going door to door and also responding to 911 calls from people seeking additional information, JCSO spokesman Major Lafayette Woods Jr. said. Authorities believe the escaped inmate is still in that area, he said. The hostage he temporarily took Saturday night (see earlier reports for details) did not see him get into a vehicle when he left. No sightings have been reported since the hostage incident.
11 a.m. Update: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said he had touched base with some of the JCSO deputies helping with the search who said no signs of Buffington have been found. The searchers are still concentrating on the area around the prison and have not been given instructions to widen the search area.
9:15 a.m. Update: Concerning reports that someone involved in the search had been injured, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Shea Wilson said, “An officer on horseback ran into a barbed-wire fence. The horse reared up and fell back on the officer. The officer is being treated for injuries associated with that incident.”
8:30 a.m. Update: “Our search is still concentrated in the area surrounding the prison. If anyone sees inmate Buffington, they are asked to call local law enforcement,” Department of Corrections spokeswoman Shea Wilson said.
At the scene Sunday morning, DOC vehicles and marked and unmarked vehicles from law enforcement could be seen parked and patrolling in the area of Princeton Pike, Claud Road, Longleaf Lane and the surrounding areas. Searchers on horseback were in the wooded areas inaccessible by roads.
Midnight Update: Woods said the search was still ongoing.
10:30 p.m. Update: Woods said that the state police helicopter was being called in to assist with the search. The ground search had so far been unsuccessful.
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A man police consider armed and dangerous has escaped from prison and law enforcement are searching for him in the Princeton Pike area.
Timothy E. Buffington, 47, is a white male. He walked off from the Randall Williams Correctional Facility at Seventh and Franklin streets earlier this evening, according to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lafayette Woods Jr., who was notified soon afterward at 7:54 p.m.
Woods said at 9:30 p.m. that Buffington was being tracked in the Princeton Pike area. Woods said Buffington is believed to be armed with a shotgun and a backpack with ammunition. He allegedly held a female in the Princeton Pike area hostage before she was able to get free unharmed.
Buffington was serving a 20-year prison sentence for homicide, Woods said.
According to the DOC website, Buffington was in prison for first-degree murder out of Logan County. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 182 pounds. He has hazel eyes and auburn hair. He also goes by the name “Bo” Buffington. He has a scar on his abdomen and on the upper back area of his left arm and another mark/tattoo/scar (inmate file is unclear) on his right wrist. His last known address was in Booneville. His initial receipt date was in 1999.
Buffington was a trusty, according to an email from DOC spokeswoman Shea Wilson.
The sheriff’s office, Pine Bluff police, state police and the Department of Corrections are involved in the search.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911.
Check back at www.pbcommercial.com for more details as they become available.