Hancock County

Handcuffed man facing misdemeanors escaped, Hancock sheriff says. Now he faces felony charges.

A handcuffed man wearing an orange jail jumpsuit faced only misdemeanor charges until he fled from police after a hearing in municipal court, officials said.

He was captured in less than two hours and arrested on two felony charges, which carry potential prison time.

“So there you are, facing misdemeanors and the court would probably let you out today, and then you escape — and then you get a felony,” Sheriff Ricky Adam said.

Police transport officers were taking Justin Fucich from city court on Main Street to the Hancock County jail with other prisoners when he escaped undetected Friday, Police Chief Gary Ponthieux Jr. said in a press release.

News of his escape led to a lockdown at nearby schools, court offices and some other buildings, the sheriff said. Officers believed the 35-year-old man was hiding in woods behind Hancock Medical Center, he said.

Bay High School is northeast of the hospital area and North Bay Elementary is behind the high school.

A caller soon told the police department an inmate was running near the Third Base Lounge on U.S. 90.

He was found less than half a mile from city court at about 1:17 p.m. in a vacant business building at 621 Blue Meadow Road, Ponthieux said. Fucich is accused of forcing his way inside the building.

Police arrested Fucich on two felonies, one count each of escape and commercial burglary.

Fucich has been held with no bond at the Hancock County jail since his arrest on misdemeanors Oct. 31.

He was taken to city court Friday to face two counts of contempt of court and one of resisting arrest, all misdemeanors, Adam said.

He was returned to the jail, with no bond on his felonies until he appears before a judge.

It’s his 17th time to be locked up there since October 2013, the jail docket shows. His previous charges also were misdemeanors.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews