EAST ELMHURST — An escaped inmate who hopped a fence in a yard at Rikers Island was found early Thursday morning after an hourslong search that prompted a full lockdown of the facility, officials said.
Naquan Hill, 24, did not return to the Anna M. Kross Center on the island after outdoor recreation on Wednesday evening, officials said.
Correction officers noticed he was gone at around 7:30 p.m. after conducting a headcount that was one person short.
Hill was found early Thursday morning by two Department of Corrections staffers after a search that included help from the NYPD and Port Authority Police, according to an official.
“I would like to thank the men and women of DOC, the NYPD, the Port Authority Police and New York State Police for their time and effort in locating this individual," New York City Department of Correction Acting Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement.
"Their coordinated actions helped safely return this inmate to custody.”
Hill has been at Rikers Island since he was arrested in December on burglary charges, records show.
The search for him set off the highest emergency level on Rikers, putting the entire facility on lockdown and causing chaos for visitors who were trying to get off the island.
Hundreds of people were stranded for hours on at least five Q100 buses without any communication about what was happening, they said.
"We were there since 7:15 on the bus, people passed out, we couldn't get water, we couldn't get off the bus," Rojelia Carter said.
As the lockdown went into effect, some people were pulled from their visits, while others were ushered out of waiting facilities, witnesses said.
After Rikers Island went on lockdown to search for escaped inmate, hundreds stranded for hours on buses, describing "pandemonium" pic.twitter.com/iNjZtU5jFl— katie honan (@katie_honan) July 27, 2017
"Getting off the island, it was almost a riot," said Josefina Sauri, 40, who was trying to visit her girlfriend.
"There were people on the floor, there were people fighting each other on the bus, the kids couldn't breathe inside the bus."
Visitors said it was "pandemonium" as people waited for more than four hours without food, water or the use of bathrooms.
"We were literally body to body, we were on top of each other. People just wanted to get out," Jenna Daubenmire, 24, said.
"People were trying to break the back doors and stuff, kicking them down."
Visitors said they weren't given any info as they waited as long as 4 hours without food, water, bathrooms - cheered when finally off pic.twitter.com/0rH2lKZX6s— katie honan (@katie_honan) July 27, 2017
After the lockdown was lifted at around 10:45 p.m., riders cheered and drivers honked as they finally drove off the island.
"It was such a relief, to be there for three hours with no food, no water, and just to visit a loved one? It makes no sense," Sauri said.