Why Fountain Square fugitive was in FBI custody

Posted at 3:54 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-21 07:25:08-04

CINCINNATI -- The FBI late Friday announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to a man who escaped the agency's custody near Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati office also revealed for the first time why Mekahale Lamb was in federal custody.

Fountain Square surveillance cameras caught the 31-year-old running through a crowd of people near Graeter's and past the Tyler Davidson Fountain at about noon Thursday.

Moments later, an FBI agent is seen chasing after him as members of the crowd point in Lamb's direction.

Watch his escape in the video player below:


According to FBI spokesman Todd Lindgren, Lamb was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin and the distribution of heroin. He participated in a drug traffic organization and sold heroin in the Cincinnati area, the indictment alleges.

Lamb is still at large. He is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and 160 pounds with tattoos on his neck. He was wearing a gray hoodie and salmon pants when he escaped at Fifth and Walnut streets at about 11:45 a.m., Cincinnati Police Lt. Steve Sanders said.

After viewing surveillance video, police said Lamb was able to get out of his handcuffs. Authorities are not sure how he was able to do this.

Matthew Bertron, a representative from the FBI National Press Office, said there are no statistics in regard to individuals escaping FBI custody since it is an “extremely rare occurrence.”

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's website states Lamb was charged with two counts of having a weapon under disability and one count of drug trafficking in 2013 -- all felonies.

An all-county broadcast alert has been issued to find Lamb. Cincinnati police have contacted authorities in areas of Northern Kentucky advising them to remain alert in case Lamb has crossed the bridge into Kentucky. 

Between the FBI and the Cincinnati Police Department, about 50 officers spent Thursday looking for Lamb and interviewing potential witnesses. Search efforts continued through the night and into Friday.

A statement released by the FBI said Lamb should be considered dangerous and should not be approached.

Officers expect Lamb may have changed his appearance. Cincinnati police are asking the public to be on the lookout for tattoos on his neck and upper body. 

Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts should contact the FBI at 513-412-4310 or call 911.  

WCPO is following this story and will update information as soon as it becomes available.