Rankin County Law Enforcement on Manhunt for Florida Escapees
On Monday April 4, 2016 around 9:24 pm a deputy with the Rankin County Sheriffs Interdiction Task Force was on I-20 west bound around the Pelahatchie exit when he observed a silver Honda Element driving erratically. A check of the vehicle’s Florida license plate revealed it was reported stolen from Florida earlier in the day. When the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver pulled to the side of the roadway and immediately fled into a wooded area north of I-20 and east of Hwy 43. The passenger then jumped into the driver’s seat and continued to flee from the officer until wrecking in a ditch on Hwy 43 just north of the off ramp. That driver then fled into a wooded area west of Hwy 43. Deputies from the Sheriff’s, Pearl Police Department, Pelahatchie Police Department, MHP and area Constables established a perimeter and attempted to located the individuals.
As the manhunt was underway, dispatchers were able to gather more information from Florida law enforcement on the individuals. They were identified as JAMES THOMAS BANKS, W/M and MICHAEL ANDREW RUTUNNO, W/M. Both men escaped custody somewhere between Walton County and Leon County Florida while being transported by a private prisoner transport company to Jackson, Minnesota on criminal charges. Both individuals have extensive criminal histories, including escape.
BANKS is described as a white male, 28 years old 5’10” approximately 197 lbs. with full facial hair. He was last seen wearing a purple shirt, gray jeans and white tennis shoes.
RUTUNNO is described as a white male, 30 years old 5’7” approximately 160 lbs. He was last seen wearing a blue stripped button up shirt, blue jeans and brown leather shoes. RUTUNNO also has a broken right arm that was in a cast at the time of his escape.
The sheriff’s office and police have maintained a presence in the area through the night and will have several additional units in and around East Rankin Academy and Pelahatchie schools on Tuesday.
Sheriff Bailey wants to assure parents, school employees and citizens in the area that deputies and police will be in and around the schools to protect them.
If you see individuals matching the description given, do not approach them, but call 911.