COAL TOWNSHIP - Police here are searching for four black cadets who escaped early Wednesday morning from Northwestern Academy by stealing an employee's car and locking him in a room.

Police said the cadets escaped shortly before 2 a.m. from the secure building at the juvenile facility. They are identified as Sean Watson, 19, of 13106 Eighth St., Bowie, Md.; David Rosario, 18, of 321 S. Ninth St., Reading; a 16-year-old male from the Washington, D.C. area, and a 15-year-old male from the Harrisburg area.

Northwestern Academy employee Kip Weir, 44, of Selinsgrove, told police Rosario and Watson assaulted him while he was releasing one of them out of a locked room to use the bathroom. Weir said Rosario and Watson then locked him in a room, stole his building keys and unlocked the room containing the juveniles before all four fled the building.

Police said the cadets also removed Weir's car keys and stole his gold, four-door 2007 Toyota Camry with registration JBW8757.

Weir suffered a minor injury, police said.

Chief of Police William Carpenter said police have an idea where the teens may be headed, but had not received specific information about their whereabouts by Wednesday evening. He said police have contacted authorities in the cadets' hometowns, relatives and friends and issued a "BOLO" (Be on the Lookout) to police and probation officers.

Carpenter said authorities have no reason to believe the cadets are armed and dangerous.

Other escapes

The police chief said two other people escaped from the academy earlier this year. In May, a 17-year-old male from Bethlehem fled from the boot camp and was apprehended in his hometown four days later. In July, a 17-year-old male escaped from the administration building, but was taken into custody a short distance away on academy grounds.

There have been multiple escapes and reported runaways at the academy over the years.

Carpenter said he is not authorized to reveal what crimes the teens had committed that led to their placement in the academy. Efforts to reach academy officials for comment were unsuccessful.

Carpenter urged anyone with information about the whereabouts of the cadets to call Coal Township police immediately at 644-0333.