UPDATE: Forces apprehend ‘armed and dangerous' Austin fugitive

*UPDATE* 11/9/15 5:54 pm

According to Hector Gomez with the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, fugitive Roger Bernal has been apprehended.  

Last Saturday, 59-year-old Roger Bernal absconded from the Austin Transitional Center in Del Valle and then cut off his ankle monitor.
  
He was serving a 99-year sentence out of Burnet County for stabbing an elderly person in the late 1980s. It wasn't his first crime.

"He has served time in both Texas and California on previous convictions involving aggravated assault, grand theft auto, possession of marijuana, more aggravated assaults...sexual assault.  Then returned to the state prison system as a parole violator.  So obviously he just doesn't get it," said US Marshal Hector Gomez.

Gomez with the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force believed Bernal was armed with knives, a weapon he's proficient with.

"He is used to that very strict, controlled environment that a penal institution provides. And simply put, that's where he needs to go," Gomez said.

Gomez says from 2013 to date they have closed 30 federal escape cases from the Austin Transitional Center -- including sex offender Kevin Stoesser whose skull was found near the halfway house.
  
Five escape cases are still open but those numbers don't include Bernal, who is a state prisoner on parole.
  
But the question is: how does this keep happening?

"There's a myth or a misconception that halfway houses such as the Austin Transitional Center have barbed wire, patrolling guards, sentry's in the corners. That is not the case," Gomez said.

The truth is, the 400 plus people that stay there can come and go. The only reason Bernal had an ankle monitor is because he's under something called "Super Intensive Supervision."
  
Gomez says as far as the walk-aways, they expect them every few months.

"The program works. It's working. You just have these bad apples and you have them," Gomez said.

Doug Smith is with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Their mission is to safely reduce incarceration in Texas without impacting recidivism or crime rates.
  
He says a solution to the walking away is helping incarcerated people prepare for the real world while they're incarcerated.
  
Essentially, transitioning before the transition center.

"What that would look like is 6 months prior to someone leaving, they're already getting transitional support.  They're being connected with employers, housing, community support and things of that nature. Moreover, increasing the number of halfway house beds so that they're not all crammed into one transitional center," Smith said.

According to US Marshals, Bernal was captured Monday afternoon by Lone Star Fugut the under a bridge at Pleasant Valley and Riverside. 

It was a tip from the public that led to his arrest.
 

 

Original story below... 


 

The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force is investigating the whereabouts of Roger Bernal, a fugitive who officials believe is armed and dangerous.

According to officials, Bernal removed his ankle monitor and escaped from the Austin Transitional Center in Del Valle, Texas. The escape happened sometime late Friday night, officials said.

Bernal was serving a 99-year sentence out of Burnet County for Injury to an Elderly with a Deadly Weapon. Officials said Bernal has family in the Burnet area.

The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force is asking anyone with information to call  512-800-4213 or your nearest law enforcement agency.  They also remind the public to not approach Bernal. 

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