Escaped inmate, accomplice captured after after hospital ambush in Idaho

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Friday, March 22, 2024
Escaped inmate, accomplice wanted after 3 officers injured in brazen ambush attack at hospital
Police in Boise, Idaho, are searching for escaped inmate Skylar Meade and accomplice Nicholas Umphenour after a brazen attack that injured officers

TWINN FALLS, Idaho -- An inmate who escaped from an Idaho hospital with an accomplice who opened fire on the correction officers transporting him in a "brazen" attack have been captured, Boise police said.

The Idaho Department of Correction inmate, Skylar Meade, and shooting suspect Nicholas Umphenour were located in the Twin Falls area around 2 p.m. MT Thursday, according to Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar.

Skylar Meade, left, and Nicholas Umphenour were captured in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Twin Falls County Sheriff/Bosie Police Department via CNN Newsource

They were taken into custody following a short vehicle pursuit, Winegar said. They will be taken to the Twin Falls County jail and may face prosecution in several other locations, according to Lt. Colonel Sheldon Kelley from the Idaho State Police.

State police are investigating two homicides that may be tied to this incident, according to Kelley. The homicides occurred in the last 24 hours at separate locations in Nez Perce and Clearwater counties and both victims were men, he said. Their cause of death has not been released. Shackles were found at one of the homicide scenes, Kelley said.

The manhunt began early Wednesday, following what authorities described as a planned ambush. Meade had been transported to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise Tuesday night for treatment after engaging in "self-injurious behavior," according to Idaho Department of Correction director Josh Tewalt.

As correction officers were preparing to transport him back to the Idaho Maximum Security Institution around 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, an individual "attacked and fired" at the officers, striking two, Boise police said.

A third correction officer was shot by a Boise officer who responded to reports of an active shooter inside the hospital's emergency department, Boise police said. The officer fired his weapon at an armed individual near the entrance who was determined to be an Idaho Department of Correction officer, police said.

Investigators ultimately determined that Meade and his accomplice fled in a gray Honda Civic, just prior to Boise officers arriving, police said.

The vehicle used in the escape had been reported stolen and was located near Leland, Idaho, authorities said. The two were located Thursday traveling in a different vehicle, Kelley said.

Umphenour is an "associate" of Meade, police said. The two, at one point, were in the same housing unit while at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution and were linked by "both having membership with the Aryan Knights," according to Tewalt. Umphenour was released from custody in January, Tewalt said.

The Idaho Department of Correction is investigating how the escape was planned, Tewalt said. There was increased security for Meade's hospital transport due to his history and he was in restraints while being escorted out of the hospital, Tewalt said. The transport "was in line with our policies," he said, adding that they are now investigating whether their policies and protocols are "sufficient enough."

Two of the correction officers shot during the escape remain hospitalized Thursday afternoon in stable and improving condition, while one has since been released, Tewalt said.

Amid the manhunt, officers on Wednesday obtained a warrant for Umphenour's arrest on two charges of aggravated battery against law enforcement and one charge of aiding and abetting an escape, police said. The warrant has a $2 million bond.

Meade, 31, has been serving time for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a firearm enhancement, according to police and Idaho Department of Correction records. His sentence was through October 2036, with parole eligibility starting in October 2026, the correction records show.

He has been incarcerated since October 2016 and has prior convictions including felony possession of a controlled substance, grand theft and introduction of contraband into a correctional facility, police said.