Fleeing suspect, handcuffed, hides in sheriff’s office

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – A burglary suspect’s bid for freedom died Wednesday when he didn’t notice the big yellow star on the door of the building he ducked into – the headquarters of the local sheriff.

A retired deputy took him into custody there, a block from the spot where police said the handcuffed man kicked out a window of a moving patrol car, lunged head-first through the opening and ran.

Brian D. Valentino, 33, of Syracuse, was being taken to the county Justice Center here by police from the nearby town of Manlius when he made his break about 11:15 a.m., Manlius Capt. Bill Bleyle said.

Valentino, a parolee, had just been arraigned on a burglary charge, Bleyle said. He was ordered held without bail.

Bleyle said Valentino told police he “freaked out” as the Justice Center loomed ahead because he did not want to go to jail.

Valentino undid his seat belt, kicked out the window and lunged through the opening, Bleyle said.

He was pursued by the Manlius officer who had been driving and a Syracuse officer who saw the escape, Bleyle said. The officers lost Valentino on South State Street.

Meanwhile, Dan Ptak, a retired deputy working part time at the headquarters at 407 South State St., glanced into the lobby and noticed the man.

“He was covered in snow and as he reached for the door I noticed the handcuffs,” Ptak said. “He ran down the hallway. Something didn’t click.”

Ptak followed and found Valentino trying to hide behind a door.

“I grabbed ahold of him and put him in a seat in the lobby. He was very compliant,” Ptak said. “I think he really didn’t realize what building he ran into.”

Soon, the pursuing officers arrived, Ptak said.

Valentino had been free for five minutes and one city block. The investigation is continuing and additional charges are expected. Valentino was taken to the Justice Center.

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