(St. James, MN) – A St. James man is facing criminal charges for allegedly escaping custody in Watonwan County one day and assaulting the sheriff the next.

Rene Alfredo Garza, 36, is charged with felony escape from custody and fleeing a police officer, a misdemeanor.  He is also charged in Watonwan County Court with gross misdemeanor assault of a police officer for the second incident.

According to the first criminal complaint, Garza was making an appearance in court on February 19 on charges of DWI and fleeing a police officer brought against him last month.  Following the hearing, Sheriff Jared Bergeman removed Garza’s handcuffs and placed him in a holding cell near the courtroom.  When an attorney asked the sheriff to open the cell a short time later, Garza was gone.

Garz was located just four minutes later in a church lot wearing different clothing and a face mask, according to the complaint.  He began to run when investigators pulled into the lot, but officers soon tackled and cuffed him.  Two other inmates who had been in the holding cell claimed not to know how Garza had escaped.

The next day, February 20, Garza was attempting to break out the lights in his cell, according to a second criminal complaint.  Sheriff Bergeman was summoned to the jail, where Garza was yelling and slamming his fists on the glass window.  Court documents say that when the jail administrator opened the door, Garza came partially out and told police to “f**king leave.”  Garza then shoved Sheriff Bergeman and hit him in the chest with an open hand, according to the complaint.

It took three law enforcement officers to subdue Garza, according to the criminal complaint.

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