Manhunt for two Florida escapees underway in Rankin County

UPDATE: Rutunno has been spotted in Longview, Texas.

A lady says she checked into a hotel with him, saw him on TV, and called police according to Sheriff Bailey.

Rutunno ran away from the scene.

He is not in custody at this time.

Banks is still on the run.

Both suspects are considered dangerous.

UPDATE: Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey tells us they’re searching for a 2002 black Ford F350. It was stolen from a shed at a home on Shiloh Road in Rankin County.

The tag number on the truck is 1AP590.

We’re told the keys were inside the truck, and authorities say the suspects did not have any contact with the homeowners.

Authorities only believe one of the suspects is traveling in the truck. They did not say which one.

Rankin County, Miss. (WJTV) – Multiple agencies in Rankin County are searching for two Florida escapees at this hour.

The agencies are searching for James Thomas Banks, 28, and Michael Andrew Rotunno, 30. Authorities say both men escaped from a Florida prisoner transport.

According to the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy with the Interdiction Task Force noticed the driver of a silver Honda Element driving erratically on I-20 West near Pelahatchie Monday night.

After running the license plate, the deputy learned the car had been reported stolen from Florida.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey tells us the driver of the car got out and ran into a wooded area west of Highway 43 after pulling over to the side of the road. That’s when authorities say the passenger of the Honda jumped into the driver’s seat and continued to run from police until he crashed on Highway 43.

Authorities set up a perimeter and began the manhunt for them.

Banks & Rotunno
Left to Right: James Banks, 28 & Michael Rotunno, 30

While the manhunt continued in Rankin County for the suspects, authorities learned more about the men they say are responsible for fleeing the traffic stop. Rankin County officials tell us Banks and Rotunno escaped from a prisoner transport in Florida. We’re told both men were headed to Jackson, Minnesota to face criminal charges.

Banks is described as a white male who stands around 5’10” and weighs about 197 lbs. He has facial hair and was last seen wearing a purple shirt, gray jeans and white tennis shoes. We’re also told he has tattoos on both arms.

Rotunno is described as a white male who stands around 5’7” and weighs about 160 lbs. He was last seen wearing a blue, striped button-up shirt, blue jeans and brown leather shoes. He should also be wearing a cast on his right arm because it’s broken.

Since Monday night, authorities with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office, Pearl Police Department, Pelahatchie Police Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol and area constables have been working to find Banks and Rotunno.

Sheriff Bryan Bailey says they’ll have multiple units surrounding areas schools to keep students and faculty safe as the manhunt for them continues.

Authorities tell us both Banks and Rotunno have extensive criminal histories. If you see the men, do not approach them, call 911.

We’ll have updates on this breaking news story on WJTV This Morning beginning at 4:30 a.m.

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