Md. prisoner fled during hospital visit

Forensic patient overpowered guards, grabbed a gun, took a worker hostage; was recovered by police


STORY UPDATE: An inmate who escaped from a hospital Wednesday, briefly taking a worker hostage and stealing two getaway cars, was captured hours later after a confrontation with police, authorities said.

Kelvin Poke, 45, overpowered guards at Laurel Regional Hospital and fired several shots before fleeing, authorities said. Once outside, he shot out the window of a car and drove away, dumping the driver, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.

Poke, who was serving life in prison for kidnapping and other crimes, was captured about 30 miles away shortly after 3 p.m., said Shipley. PREVIOUS STORY CONTINUES:

LAUREL, Md. -- An inmate serving life in prison for kidnapping and other crimes escaped from a hospital Wednesday with a guard's gun, briefly taking a worker hostage and stealing two getaway cars.

Kelvin Poke, 45, overpowered guards at Laurel Regional Hospital and fired several shots before fleeing, authorities said. Once outside, he shot out the window of a car and drove away, dumping the driver, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.

A bullet struck the driver but he was not seriously injured, Shipley said. The car was later found on fire in northeast Washington, D.C., and another vehicle was carjacked nearby, police said.

Access to the hospital was limited but it remained operational, Shipley said. Three schools nearby were locked down as authorities hunted for Poke, who was serving life plus 40 years at the Jessup Correctional Institution for kidnapping, carjacking and robbery.

Poke had been admitted to the hospital Monday after complaining of chest pains. He was wearing leg shackles but not handcuffs on the hospital's fourth floor when he overpowered several prison guards and took two guns, apparently dumping one before fleeing.

Poke fired at his shackles inside the hospital and overpowered a hospital security guard who responded to the noise, authorities said. He held the guard hostage as he made his way to the lobby, then fled alone.

Shipley said Poke left the hospital wearing Department of Corrections-issued jeans and white socks, but no shirt and no shoes.

In November, a prisoner escaped from the same hospital after taking a state trooper's gun and firing shots. He was captured hours later following an intense search.

Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said there was nothing to indicate the guards failed to follow proper procedure.

"There's no reason to think anything was amiss," Vernarelli said.

The hospital confirmed there was "an incident" Wednesday but would not provide details.


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