Gulf County escapees face attempted murder charge

Northwest Florida

Chad Johnson

PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — Both men who escaped from a Gulf County Detention Facility in Port St. Joe Tuesday now face an attempted murder charge after they beat a corrections officer and one of them attempted to stab him with a shiv, authorities said Wednesday.

Chad Edward Johnson, 43, and Rex Arron Veasey, Jr., attacked the officer immediately when he opened their cell Tuesday, Gulf County Sheriff’s deputies wrote in a news release.

“During the attack, the officer told the investigator he was punched approximately ten, or twelve, times in the face. He further stated that Johnson made a statement about killing him and then pulled a homemade knife from his pants and attempted to stab him,” deputies wrote. “Using both hands, the officer was able to grab Johnson’s hand with the knife to keep him from stabbing him. Johnson continued to strike the officer in the head with his other hand.”

The two men left the officer lying in the cell and were able to gain access to the common areas of the jail facility. They then removed an air conditioner window unit from a wall and escaped through the hole, deputies wrote.

Veasey was captured hours after he escaped by Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies when he was spotted in the woods.

After his capture, Veasey was booked into the Franklin County Jail and faces new charges of escape from a correctional facility and one count of attempted murder. He was in the custody of the GCDF on charges of sexual battery with a weapon on a victim between 12 and 17 years of age, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and escape.

Johnson is still on the loose and is wanted for escape from a correctional facility, attempted murder, and the introduction of contraband into a county detention facility. He is 6’0″ tall, weighs approximately 215 lbs. and has blue eyes with short brown hair and possibly a beard. Johnson has tattoos on his left and right arms, including his hands.

He is suspected in the theft of a 2006 Ford van that displayed Florida tag 7039XP. The vehicle was last seen at approximately 6:20 a.m. Tuesday morning traveling north on Highway 71 near the Calhoun and Gulf County line.

The Florida Sheriff’s Association is offering $5,000 for information that leads to Johnson’s capture. The U.S Marshall’s Fugitive Task Force and Panhandle CrimeStoppers each offering an additional $1,000.

Anyone with information may contact the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office directly at 850-227-1115 (opt 4), contact their local authorities or remain anonymous by calling Panhandle Crime Stoppers at 850-785-TIPS (8477).

Tips may also be reported through the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office App or online at pcstips.com

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