An inmate and his wife still on the run after a court shooting near Knoxville - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

An inmate and his wife still on the run after a court shooting near Knoxville

Police vowed to capture the escaped inmate and his wife who authorities said gunned down and killed a guard escorting him from the Roane County Courthouse. "Nobody condones this kind of violence," said Mark Gywn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. "With the help of the public, I think we can bring these individuals back into custody." Speaking Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Gwyn described the situation as dangerously volatile for the local, state and federal authorities conducting the manhunt. "It's just a Bonnie and Clyde style shootout," he said. "These people are very desperate. They have nothing to lose at this point. They've already committed a murder, so we're treating them as some of the most dangerous fugitives we've ever tried to capture." George Hyatte, 34, who has a history of aggravated robberies and escapes, was being led shackled and handcuffed by two state prison guards from the courthouse around 10 a.m. Tuesday when, authorities said, his wife, Jennifer Hyatte, 31, pulled up in a Ford Explorer. "Mr. Hyatte hollered 'Shoot him!' She opened up fire on the officers, hitting one in the abdomen," Kingston Police Chief Jim Washam said. The woman was armed with a handgun and fired several times, he said. The officer, Wayne "Cotton" Morgan, 56, was shot in the stomach and airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, where he was declared dead. Relatives used television newscasts to ask George Hyatte to surrender. "I want to tell my son, if you can hear me George, you give yourself up son," his mother, Edith Hyatte, said on WRCB-TV. "Please, give yourself up." The escaped prisoner's older brother, Michael, said he wanted to send a message Morgan's family. "That's my little brother, he ain't always been like that," he said. "But our deepest sympathies go out to the family. It might not mean much now, but we are deeply saddened and you will be in our prayers." Morgan worked for the Corrections Department for 28 years and spent his entire career at the Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex. The prison houses about 1,550 inmates. James Earl Ray, the confessed killer of Martin Luther King Jr., escaped from Brushy Mountain in 1977. He was captured three days later. "Officer Morgan exemplified ... dedication with 28 years of service to the Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex and the state of Tennessee," said Gayle Ray, acting state Correction Commissioner. His brother, niece and nephew also worked at Brushy Mountain. Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen said in a statement that he was "outraged over the senseless and cold-blooded murder" and said no effort would be spared "to bring these criminals to justice." Witness C. G. Gray said he and his wife were in the parking lot about 50 feet away when they heard shots. Gray said Morgan, who wasn't wearing a protective vest, never got his gun out of his holster, but another guard returned fire. "The other officer did a get a shot off, apparently striking one of the individuals," Washam said. The SUV sped off but was found abandoned about a half mile away outside a sandwich shop. Blood was found on the driver's side, leaving officials to think the woman may be injured, Washam said. The pair were believed to have switched vehicles, jumping into a gold Chevrolet Venutre van that had been parked at the shop overnight. From there, Interstate 40 was a short distance away. Authorities refused to identify the surviving guard or say how many shots were fired. Evidence was still being collected in the courthouse parking lot. Helicopters circled over this eastern Tennessee town of about 6,000 as the search involving local, state and federal officers fanned out. "We do have leads coming in on possible whereabouts, possibly some family members that may be hiding them out. We're trying our best to coordinate those," Washam said. "Right now, we can't say if they had any help." Washam said murder charges were being prepared against the pair. Jennifer Hyatte worked about five months as a contractor LPN nurse at a state prison in Tiptonville in western Tennessee. She was fired last August for "suspicion of a relationship with an inmate," who was George Hyatte, state Corrections Department spokeswoman Amanda Sluss said. George Hyatte, who is two years into a 35-year sentence at Brushy Mountain for aggravated robbery and aggravated assault, was at the courthouse to plead guilty in a deal with prosecutors over another armed robbery charge, Washam said. Hyatte has a history of robbery convictions dating to 1990, and escapes. In 1998, he escaped from the jail in Kingston and was a fugitive for about a day. He escaped from the Rhea County jail in Dayton in November 2002 and was captured the next day in southwest Florida. George Hyatte was described as black, 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 140 pounds and last seen wearing a blue denim prison uniform. Jennifer Hyatte was described as white, 5-4 and 140 pounds.
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