TAMPA — Robert Lewis Wimbush took a few wrong turns as he tried to escape Thursday afternoon from the Edgecomb Courthouse Annex.
The 17-year-old Department of Juvenile Justice inmate's dash ended with him being shocked by a Taser in an office full of deputies, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
It began at 1:45 p.m. when Wimbush left the fourth floor courtroom of Circuit Judge Tracy Sheehan, where he was facing charges including violation of probation, and told the juvenile justice officer escorting him that he had to go to the bathroom, said Col. Jim Previtera, commander of Hillsborough County jails.
Wimbush hadn't been cuffed or shackled in the courtroom because of a 2010 Florida Supreme Court ruling that limits restraint of minors in juvenile court to violent or potential flight risk defendants.
But it was unclear why he hadn't been restrained when he went into the bathroom.
After entering the bathroom alone, Wimbush stuck his head out the door and noticed his escort was not within sight, Previtera said. He made a break for a stairwell and darted down three flights of stairs before anyone noticed.
Along the way, Wimbush tried to open a door to the street but found he would need a card to access it. He ran toward another locked door that led to the holding area for adult inmates. Then he turned to another door. It was unlocked, but it also read "Staff."
Wimbush took his chances and went in, Previtera said.
Cpl. Libby Shelton looked up from her desk, saw Wimbush and yelled, "Inmate escape!"
Deputies swarmed, chasing Wimbush to another locked door that led to Twiggs Street. Unable to get outside, the teen turned toward yet another door. This time a pursuing deputy fired a Taser. Previtera said one of the prongs got stuck in the sweatshirt Wimbush wore under his brown inmate uniform. But the other prongs were effective.
"He gave up immediately and said 'You got me. You got me,' " Previtera said.
Bailiffs welcomed a shackled Wimbush back into Sheehan's courtroom, and she told him he had acquired a new charge of attempt to escape confinement. The judge scheduled for him to make a return visit Friday.