Ohio prison officials say inmate in hospital overpowers guard, escapes with weapon

HILLIARD, Ohio (AP) - Police surrounded a house where a prison inmate was believed to have holed up Monday after overpowering an armed guard in a hospital and fleeing with a weapon and a guard's uniform.

Billy Jack Fitzmorris, 34, was believed to have escaped on foot from St. Elizabeth Hospital Medical Center in Youngstown, according to Corrections Corporation of America. The company runs the Northeast Ohio Correction Center in Youngstown, where Fitzmorris had been held since February for the U.S. Marshals Service.

Two nurses and several prison workers were briefly held in a hospital room during the escape, authorities said.

A few hours later, police surrounded a house in Hilliard, about 150 miles southwest of Youngstown, where Fitzmorris was believed to be hiding, police Lt. Everet Lambert said.       Television footage showed a man breaking into the house after abandoning a car nearby. A woman later climbed out a second story window and dropped to the ground as police arrived.

Corrections Corporation called Fitzmorris a pretrial inmate but did not provide details about why he was being held.

It also gave no details on why he was taken to the hospital on Saturday or how he overpowered the guard. He had been under observation in his room Monday morning when the confrontation occurred, the company said.

Representatives of the hospital and the U.S. Marshals Service did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)