AUGUSTA, Ga. – Hospital police shot and killed an inmate who fled a medical building after overpowering a state corrections officer and taking his gun, authorities said.
The guard was treated Thursday for minor injuries, state police said. Inmate Darius Magby, 32, who was serving a life sentence for armed robbery and drug convictions, died in the emergency room of Medical College of Georgia Hospital (search), a hospital spokeswoman said.
Magby, who was doing his time in Reidsville, almost 100 miles away, had been brought to the hospital for an unspecified surgery, police and Corrections Department officials said.
He took the guard's gun while being escorted unshackled into an eighth-floor restroom, then ran down the stairs and left the building, the hospital said. When he pulled a gun out of his prison-issue coveralls and refused a hospital police officer's order to stop, a second officer shot him, the hospital said.
A hospital visitor said he heard the commotion on the eighth floor as he waited for his mother to come out of lung surgery.
"The guard backed out of the bathroom and said, 'He's got my gun,'" Scott Strange told The Augusta Chronicle. Then Magby emerged, holding a firearm, Strange said.
A doctor said the guard tried to flee from the armed inmate. Soon after, the two struggled over the gun, and the guard ran away a second time, anesthesiology resident John Wages said.
Magby "was waving the gun all over the place," Wages said.
Inmates who leave prison grounds for a medical appointment are usually escorted by two officers and restrained by leg irons and handcuffs connected to waist chains, Corrections Department spokeswoman Sheree Lipscomb said. Chains may be removed if an inmate has to go to the restroom or for a medical procedure, but Lipscomb said she didn't know if that was the case Thursday.
The escape attempt and shooting were under investigation.
The guard, who was not identified, will not be suspended or placed on leave during the probe, said Alan Adams, who is responsible for corrections operations in the state prison system. Adams said he didn't know when the guard will return to duty.
The two hospital police officers, whose names were also not released, will remain on administrative leave with pay during the investigation, medical college spokeswoman Toni Baker said.
The hospital has had no other such incidents since it began providing prisoner health care in 1997, Lipscomb said.
The escape attempt was the latest violence involving prisoners in the state.
Brian Nichols (search), 33, is accused of overpowering a deputy in March and stealing her gun, then killing a judge who was presiding over his rape trial and the court reporter. A sheriff's deputy was killed outside the courthouse, and a federal agent was killed elsewhere before Nichols was taken into custody a day later.
Earlier this week, a man facing burglary charges attacked a Fulton County deputy sheriff in the same courthouse. The Fulton County Sheriff's Department (search) said the deputy was trying to calm down the man when he tried to punch her.