“We’re working around the clock,” Amerson said.
Hunt, a 22-year-old Anniston resident wanted on five felony robbery charges, escaped from his guarded room at Regional Medical Center around 8 p.m. Tuesday. He was in the hospital receiving treatment for eight bullet wounds that he received during an Oct. 12 shooting at Constantine Homes.
The sheriff’s office has led multiple law enforcement agencies in the manhunt for Hunt that began shortly after his escape and was still ongoing by the time of The Star’s deadline Wednesday night. Amerson said Calhoun County Crimestoppers are offering up to $1,000 in rewards for any county resident who can provide them with information on Hunt’s whereabouts.
“We are using every resource,” Amerson said.
The search has expanded in manpower and scope since its beginning, when deputies and Anniston police focused efforts on the neighborhoods surrounding RMC.
Wednesday saw the additional help of the U.S. Marshals, the Calhoun-Cleburne Violent Crime and Drug Task Force and other off-duty investigators. Amerson said U.S. Marshals are approaching the manhunt as if Hunt has left the county or even the state, while other authorities are powering the local search.
“We’re following several promising leads all at once,” he said. “We’ve got 22 to 24 officers out searching right now.”
Despite those leads and the extra help from other agencies, Amerson told The Star, Hunt’s escape should never have happened in the first place.
“There was an absolute breakdown in the security of this (hospital) room,” Amerson said Tuesday evening. “There is no excuse.”
Amerson said an internal investigation into what exactly went wrong will follow Hunt’s capture. Deputies provided these details of Hunt’s escape:
Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, Hunt entered the bathroom in his eighth-floor hospital room, where he tore off his IV and bandages. Afterward, he flung the door open and sprinted past his guards, gaining a head start on them in his descent down eight flights of stairs. When Hunt ran out of the hospital, he was wearing only a hospital gown and a white T-shirt. Officials said he was last seen in the area of East 10th Street.
Hunt is one of two Anniston men who were hospitalized after the Oct. 12 shooting, authorities said. A 21-year-old with Hunt was shot twice but was recently released from the hospital.
After the shooting, Hunt and the other man got into a Nissan Maxima and sped to the hospital, according to police reports. They crashed on the way to RMC, flipping the car at the corner of Leighton Avenue and B Street.
Hunt was ejected from the car, and when police arrived they found him lying in the street, Anniston police said.
During his recovery at the hospital, deputies discovered Hunt was out of jail on bond awaiting trial on five felony robbery charges and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied building. Circuit Judge Malcolm Street revoked his bond, and Hunt was placed under the guard of a corrections officer and a deputy while he recuperated at RMC.
David Hunt’s father, Clarence Hunt, told The Star Wednesday morning he saw that the guards had handcuffed David Hunt’s wrists to the hospital bed.
That image was part of the reason Clarence Hunt said it was so hard for him to believe deputies Tuesday night when they told him his son had escaped.
“But the officer last night said they took the cuffs off because he (David Hunt) was so weak and sick and stuff,” Clarence Hunt said.
Clarence Hunt also said he assisted deputies in the manhunt for his son, taking them to places where David Hunt might have gone, including homes of family members and public housing projects where David Hunt often hung out.
But Clarence Hunt said Wednesday he’s not so willing to help law enforcement officials anymore.
That’s because deputies picked up his daughter, 25-year-old Christine Hunt, from Constantine Homes around 11 a.m. on a failure to pay warrant out of Oxford, according to Oxford investigators and dispatch.
Oxford authorities said a warrant was issued for Christine Hunt on Oct. 6 after she allegedly failed to pay a $400 cash bond for leaving the scene of a car accident.
But Clarence Hunt disputed the warrant as the reason deputies picked up his daughter, saying he thinks they are trying to “mess with his family,” even though he’s been helping them ever since David Hunt escaped.
Clarence Hunt said he talked to a deputy Wednesday morning who told him authorities were holding his daughter at the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office because they think she’s lying about the whereabouts of David Hunt.
“Now, it’s ridiculous,” Clarence Hunt said. “Now they’re locking up my daughter, but she don’t know nothing.”
Amerson wouldn’t comment on whether deputies interviewed Christine Hunt or suspected of her lying, because he said he didn’t want to identify anyone they thought had specific information about the escapee.
Amerson said he and a couple of other deputies were scouring Hobson City late Wednesday after they received information that Hunt may have frequented certain areas there.
“We’re being as proactive as possible,” Amerson said.
Star staff writer Cameron Steele: 256-235-3562