Prison Officials Look For Escapee

Monday, April 2nd 2007, 1:53 pm
By: News On 6

HILLIARD, Ohio (AP) _ Police surrounded a house where a prison inmate was believed to have holed up Monday after overpowering an armed guard in a hospital and fleeing with a weapon and a guard's uniform.

Billy Jack Fitzmorris, 34, was believed to have escaped on foot from St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, according to Corrections Corporation of America. The company runs the Northeast Ohio Correction Center in Youngstown, where Fitzmorris had been held since February for the U.S. Marshals Service.

Two nurses and several prison workers were briefly held in a hospital room during the escape, authorities said.

A few hours later, police surrounded a house in Hilliard, a Columbus suburb about 150 miles southwest of Youngstown, where Fitzmorris was believed to be hiding, said David Siler of the Marshals Service's fugitive task force. It was not clear how Fitzmorris was believed to have traveled that far, and Siler had no further details.

Television footage showed a man breaking into the house after abandoning a car nearby. A woman later climbed out a second story window and dropped to the ground as police arrived.

Police at the house were not providing further information and it was unclear whether Fitzmorris was still in the house.

Corrections Corporation spokeswoman Louise Grant said Fitzmorris has been awaiting sentencing but she did not know what charge was involved.

The company, based in Nashville, Tenn., gave no details on why he was taken to the hospital Saturday or how he overpowered the guard. He had been under observation in his room Monday morning when the confrontation occurred, the company said.

``It's been a scary day for us here,'' hospital spokeswoman Tina Creighton told CNN.

She said she couldn't discuss why the inmate was at the hospital beyond saying that he was there for treatment.

``He overcame the guard; there was a corrections guard from the prison. He took the uniform and the weapon and made his escape,'' Creighton said.