Idaho Escape: Search launched for armed inmate after accomplice opened fire on correctional officers at hospital, authorities say

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Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman/AP

The attack occurred just outside the hospital’s emergency department.


A search is underway for a dangerous escaped inmate with ties to a white supremacist group and an armed accomplice in Idaho after corrections officers transporting the inmate from a Boise hospital were ambushed with gunfire in a coordinated attack, they say The authorities.

The attack and escape occurred at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center when inmate Skylar Meade was being released from the hospital shortly after 2 a.m. and another person began shooting, Josh Tewalt, director of the Idaho Department of Corrections, said in a press conference in the afternoon.

The shooting was “a blatant attempt to get Meade out of custody,” Boise Police Department Chief Ron Winegar said at the news conference.

Boise Police Department/Handout/AP

Skylar Meade.

Correctional officers were preparing to take Meade back to the Idaho Maximum Security Institution, about 11 miles away, when “an unknown suspect attacked and shot at the officers, wounding two of them,” Winegar said.

Meade and the alleged shooter got into a gray four-door sedan, a 2020 Honda Civic with license plate number 2TDF43U, and fled the area just before police officers arrived, according to the chief.

The third correctional officer was wounded by gunfire from a responding police officer, who believed the shooter was inside the emergency department and saw an armed individual near the door, authorities said.

One of the officers injured by the suspect is in critical but stable condition, according to the chief. The other two have non-life-threatening injuries, he said.

Boise Police Department

Nicolas Umphenour

The alleged shooter was identified in a police press release Wednesday Night as Nicholas Umphenour. He is charged with aggravated assault on law enforcement and complicity in escape, according to the release.

Police are asking the public to be on the lookout for the vehicle and to call police or 911 if they spot it, but not to confront the men.

“They are dangerous, they are armed and they have shown a propensity for violence,” Winegar said.

The hospital closed for a time, but has since resumed operations. the police said.

“St. Alphonsus was not necessarily the target of this situation. It just happened to be where Mr. Meade was being treated,” Winegar said. “We don’t believe there is any danger at this time for anyone who needs to come for treatment, appointments or anything else on that campus.”

Meade was sentenced in October 2016 for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm, has multiple prior convictions and is a documented gang member with ties to the Aryan Knights, Winegar said. He was due to be released in 2036.

The Aryan Knights are a white supremacist prison gang based primarily in Idaho, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Meade has the numbers “1” and “11” tattooed on his face, a reference to the group, Winegar noted.

The corrections department made the decision to take Meade to the hospital Tuesday night after he engaged in “self-injurious behavior” at the correctional facility, Tewalt said at the news conference.

“Our on-site doctor evaluated him and they made the determination that he needed to be transported off-site for emergency care.”

Meade was at the hospital from 9:50 p.m. to 2:08 a.m., Tewalt said.

City of Boise/Handout/AP

An undated photo of Skylar Meade

In custody, Meade was in administrative segregation, often called solitary confinement, Tewalt said.

“There is no higher level of custody that we administer,” Tewalt said. “That is not a classification determined by your criminal record. It is a classification that is earned by your behavior.”

Two correctional staff members accompanied Meade in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and a chase vehicle followed, Tewalt said.

In a high-risk situation like Meade’s hospital visit, Tewalt said, an inmate is typically flanked by two unarmed staff members on either side, with an armed staff member following to keep an eye on him.

He called the incident “unprecedented and unthinkable.”

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