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Prisoner dies in shootout after fleeing Md. hospital

A Maryland inmate who escaped from a hospital Wednesday, briefly taking a worker hostage and stealing two getaway cars, was killed hours later in a shootout with police, authorities said.
Hospital Shooting
Inmate Kelvin Poke, in an undated photo released by the Maryland Department of Corrections.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

An inmate who escaped from a hospital Wednesday, briefly taking a worker hostage and stealing two getaway cars, died after a shootout with police, authorities said.

Kelvin Poke, 45, was pronounced dead at Prince George's Hospital Center, said Suzanne Almalel, a spokeswoman for Dimensions Healthcare System, which operates the hospital.

Poke 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 shot about 30 miles away shortly after 3 p.m., said Shipley.

Officers spotted a white Ford Explorer with two flat tires and followed the vehicle into a cemetery, where shots were fired, said Officer Henry Tippett, a Prince George's County police spokesman.

Poke had fled the hospital Wednesday morning, authorities said. He had been admitted 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.

The first car Poke used to flee was later found on fire in northeast Washington, D.C., and another vehicle was carjacked nearby, police said. The driver of the first car was shot in the head but was expected to survive, authorities said.

Access to the hospital was limited Wednesday, but it remained open, 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.

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.

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