Escaped inmate, accomplice wanted after 3 officers injured in ambush attack at Idaho hospital

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Thursday, March 21, 2024
Escaped inmate, accomplice wanted after 3 officers injured in brazen ambush attack at hospital
Police in Boise, Idaho, are searching for escaped inmate Skylar Meade and accomplice Nicholas Umphenour after a brazen attack that injured officers

BOISE, Idaho -- An inmate escaped from an Idaho hospital Wednesday with an accomplice who opened fire on the correction officers transporting him, striking two, in a "brazen" attack, authorities said.

Both suspects remain at large following the early morning "ambush," the Idaho Department of Correction said.

The Idaho Department of Correction inmate, Skylar Meade, had been transported to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise for unscheduled medical treatment, authorities said. As correction officers were preparing to transport him back to prison around 2:15 a.m. local time, an individual "attacked and fired" at the officers, Boise police said.

One officer is in critical but stable condition, and the second has serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

A third correction officer was shot by a Boise officer who responded to reports of an active shooter inside the hospital's emergency department, Boise police said. The officer fired his weapon at an armed individual near the entrance who was determined to be an Idaho Department of Correction officer, police said. The correction officer was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

The hospital was temporarily locked down as Boise officers searched the area for the shooting suspect, police said. Investigators ultimately determined that Meade and his accomplice fled in a gray Honda Civic, just prior to Boise officers arriving, police said.

"This brazen, violent, and apparently coordinated attack on Idaho Department of Corrections personnel, to facilitate an escape of a dangerous inmate, was carried out right in front of the Emergency Department, where people come for medical help, often in the direst circumstances," Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar said in a statement. "I am grateful this harrowing incident did not result in loss of life, and we are monitoring the wounded IDOC officers with great hope for a full and speedy recovery of all involved."

The shooting suspect has been identified as Nicholas Umphenour, an "associate" of Meade, police said Wednesday evening. Officers have obtained a warrant for Umphenour's arrest on two charges of aggravated battery against law enforcement and one charge of aiding and abetting an escape, police said. The warrant has a $2 million bond.

It is unknown where the two suspects have headed, police said.

"We are searching as quickly as we can, following every lead we can," Winegar told reporters at a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, calling it a "very dynamic, unfolding incident."

"They could be anywhere at this point," he later said.

Idaho Department of Correction director Josh Tewalt told reporters they are investigating how the attack was planned and working to identify any other accomplices who may have been involved in facilitating Meade's escape.

The inmate "engaged in self-injurious behavior" Tuesday night, and prison medical staff determined he needed to be transported off-site for care, Tewalt said.

Meade, 31, has most recently been serving time at a maximum security prison in Kuna for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a firearm enhancement, according to police and Idaho Department of Correction records. His sentence was through October 2036, with parole eligibility starting in October 2026, the correction records show.

Meade has been incarcerated since October 2016 and has prior convictions including felony possession of a controlled substance, grand theft and introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, police said.

Authorities urged anyone who may have contact with the two suspects to call 911.

"They are armed, dangerous, and have shown they are willing to use extreme violence in furtherance of their criminal activity," Winegar said.

Meade was described by authorities as a white, 5-foot-6 man weighing 150 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair. He has tattoos on his arms, chest, calf, abdomen and face. They include the number one on one side of his face and the number 11 on the other side, which is a reference to the prison gang Aryan Knights, according to Winegar.

Umphenour was described by authorities as being 5-foot-11, about 160 lbs, with brown hair and hazel eyes.

Following the lockdown, the hospital has since resumed normal operations.

The Ada County Sheriff's Office is investigating the officer shooting, Boise police said.