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Police: Inmate hit officer with shovel, stole car to escape

By AP | Dec 4, 2020

OKAHUMPKA, Fla. (AP) — A Florida inmate was returned to custody Thursday, shortly after he hit an officer with a shovel and stole a law enforcement agency vehicle to escape, authorities said.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies were called to an intersection at around 1 p.m. on a report that an inmate had escaped from Florida Department of Corrections custody, the agency said.

Investigators said the inmate, who was not immediately identified, struck the correctional officer with a shovel before driving off. The officer sustained minor injuries but was expected to recover, officials said.

A sheriff’s office helicopter joined the search and was able to spot the inmate as he crashed the agency pickup truck in nearby Okahumpka, news outlets reported. The Leesburg Police Department responded and arrested him, Leesburg police spokesman Lt. Joe Iozzi said.

The inmate ran a red light, hit an SUV and caused a four-car crash near the intersection, The Orlando Sentinel quoted Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Kim Montes as saying. Nobody was injured in the crash, she said.

Video from the scene taken by news outlets Thursday afternoon showed dozens of law enforcement officers and first responders blocking off the intersection, and an ambulance parked nearby.

Authorities did not say where the inmate was serving time or what he was initially charged with. New charges against the inmate were not immediately released.

Florida Highway Patrol was set to investigate the crash.