A sheriff says a robbery and kidnapping suspect escaped a North Carolina jail by threatening a jailer with a weapon fashioned from a toothbrush.

Chowan County Sheriff Dwayne Goodwin said in a news release that officers using search dogs were combing the area for 26-year-old Kevin Singleton, who escaped Sunday afternoon.

The sheriff said Singleton used the "weapon-like tool" made from his toothbrush to force a detention officer to release him. The officer wasn't harmed.

The news release noted that Singleton had been jailed on charges of robbery and second-degree kidnapping. He also was facing charges including assault in Charlotte.

The sheriff said the jail is required to give inmates toothbrushes but will work on ways to prevent future escapes.

Goodwin didn't immediately respond to an email seeking further comment.