Feds haven’t explained why they waited hours for escaped inmate alert

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- WREG has learned more about the timeline following an escaped federal inmate in Millington on Friday.

Sue Manning worried Monday thinking back to Friday afternoon when her grandkids could’ve been playing outside without even realizing there was a federal inmate on the run.

“I’ve lived here since ‘76, never had any problems until the federal prison comes over. Now they’re letting their guys walk away," Manning said.

Officials with the Federal Bureau of Prisons said an inmate walked off around 6 p.m. Friday. But the U.S. Marshals said it didn’t find out about the escapee until four hours later at 10 p.m. Meanwhile, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said it found out around 1 a.m., seven hours after the inmate supposedly walked out.

“They need to tighten up their security over there,” Manning said.

“Saturday. That’s when I saw it on Facebook," her neighbor Dalicia Huntley said.

Huntley was also worried because she takes care of her teenage sister and they live steps away from the prison grounds.

“They should’ve given us a warning saying lock your doors. Or they could’ve had a police officer knocking on each door, giving us a heads up what’s going on,” Huntley said.

Ultimately, U.S. Marshals said they caught the inmate, 40-year-old Travon Gardner, around 4 p.m. Saturday. They said they were questioning the woman who lives there when Gardner fell through the ceiling and revealed his hiding place.

Officials said Gardner was serving 25 years for drug distribution charges. That also surprised Huntley.

"I was like, 'Well they just told us that only credit card people and theft stays in that prison,' but we found out differently now," she said.

Officials said Gardner surrendered peacefully.

WREG asked the Federal Bureau of Prisons why they waited hours to alert other agencies and the public about Gardner's escape. We have not heard back.