Corrections Officer Shot; Inmate Escapes, Then Captured

A hospitalized prisoner shot a corrections officer guarding his room Thursday, hijacked a taxi and led police on a car chase before he was caught several miles away, authorities said.

The 44-year-old guard, who was shot in the face, was listed in critical condition.

The inmate, Brandon Morris, 20, had been taken from prison and admitted to Washington County Hospital on Wednesday for an undisclosed condition. Before daybreak Thursday, he grabbed the officer's gun and shot him, authorities said.

Morris then ran out to the hospital parking lot and forced a taxi driver at gunpoint to take him toward Pennsylvania, authorities said.

The driver kept his radio open so dispatchers could relay information to police who were in pursuit, then crashed the cab just over the state line. The inmate ran off but was arrested in an industrial park near Hagerstown, authorities said.

The cab driver was not injured.

Morris was serving an eight-year sentence for assault, robbery and handgun violations, authorities said.

Hospitalized inmates are required wear either handcuffs or leg restraints and to be secured to the bed, said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a state prison spokeswoman. She said she believes the policy was followed in Morris' case.

Morris was being moved Thursday from the state police barracks in Hagerstown to a prison.

Prison officials said the officer is from Martinsburg, W.Va., but declined to name him, citing his family's request for privacy. He is a four-year veteran of the Maryland prison system.

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services began an internal investigation with help from state police.