U.S. Marshal's arrest two Austin halfway house escapees

U.S. Marshal Hector Gomez with the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force says 18 people walked away from the Austin Transitional Center in Del Valle last year.

Those living there are on the honor system as they work and reintegrate themselves into society after being behind bars.

They're still looking for 2 of them.

"I don't see anything wrong with the transition center...these are just...to me obviously bad decisions made by individuals who just do not adhere to the basic rules of a halfway house," Gomez said.

On Monday morning, 37-year-old Brian Anthony Whitford woke up, had breakfast and disappeared from the Austin Transitional Center.  He was placed on escape status.

According to the court paperwork, later that day Whitford tried to rob the Wells Fargo on Guadalupe in Austin near UT.

"He handed the teller a note saying '"This is a robbery.  Give me $5000 out of just your till or innocent people in here get hurt.  Do not hit a silent alarm until I am gone.  No dye packs.  No GPS devices.  Let me walk, call the cops and no one gets hurt.  You have 45 seconds to do this."

Whitford wasn't given any money there...so he left.

Later that day, he walked into the Compass Bank on South Congress with a similar note: "This is robbery.  Give me the money just out of your till.  Do not leave your window.  No silent alarms or dye packs.  I have a gun."

The teller gave him around $3,700.  Whitford was arrested in San Antonio Wednesday.

The Department of Justice says Compass and Wells Fargo are the same 2 financial institutions he was convicted of robbing in April 2010 that sent him to prison in the first place.

Gomez says known Crips gang member Larry Egins who also walked away from the facility this month was arrested in Austin on Wednesday.

A neighborhood near the facility is upset they have never been alerted about the escapes.

Fernando Serrano has kids.  He says some notification would have been nice.

"We never got an alert, we never got like a notice in the mail or anything to that fact.  And it's kind of disheartening because, I don't know, I could be going down the street with my kids and somebody jumps in the car that's just escaped from the jail," Serrano said.

As far as that notification, the Travis County Sheriff's Department says if an escape happens at one of their facilities, they will let everyone in the surrounding area know.  But they say they weren't even notified about this week's escape at the halfway house.
Brian Whitford is facing up to 20 years in federal prison for each bank robbery charge and possibly another 5 for the escape charge.
Larry Egins is facing an escape charge as well.

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