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Friday, April 19, 2024

Idaho Prison Gang Member and Accomplice Arrested After Hospital Escape and Shooting

In a dramatic turn of events, an Idaho prison gang member and his accomplice, who fled from a Boise hospital in a daring escape that left three corrections officers shot, were apprehended on Thursday. Authorities are now investigating whether the fugitives were involved in two homicides while on the run.

The incident unfolded around 2 a.m. on Wednesday when Skylar Meade, 31, serving a 20-year prison sentence, was taken by Idaho Department of Correction officers to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise for medical treatment. As they prepared to return him to prison, the officers were ambushed by Nicholas Umphenour, 28, who shot three officers, two of whom were injured by Umphenour himself, while the third was shot by a police officer arriving at the scene. Meade and Umphenour, former prison mates of four years, escaped before the arrival of Boise Police officers.

A widespread manhunt ensued, with authorities warning the public that the fugitives were armed and dangerous. The search came to an end around 2 p.m. on Thursday after Meade and Umphenour were captured without resistance following a brief vehicle pursuit in the Twin Falls area, approximately 120 miles southeast of Boise.

During a news conference, Chief Ron Winegar of the Boise Police Department confirmed the arrests and provided details on ongoing investigations into two homicides, one in Nez Perce County and the other in Clearwater County, to determine if they are connected to Meade and Umphenour. The presence of shackles found at one of the crime scenes has raised suspicions of a potential link to the escaped inmates.

The victims of the homicides have not been identified, and it remains unclear if they had any affiliation with gangs. The Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office reported finding one victim deceased after being called for a welfare check, while the Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Office referred inquiries about the second homicide to the Idaho State Police.

Josh Tewalt, director of the Idaho Department of Correction, provided updates on the injured officers, confirming that one had been released from the hospital on Wednesday evening, while the other two were in stable condition and showing signs of improvement.

Authorities are piecing together the events leading up to the hospital ambush, with Mr. Tewalt stating that the attack was premeditated and carried out in collaboration between Meade and Umphenour. Charges against the duo are pending.

Both Meade and Umphenour were incarcerated at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution from December 2020 to January 2024 and were believed to share acquaintances.

Meade had been serving time for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a firearm enhancement, along with prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance, grand theft, and bringing contraband into a correctional facility. He had been incarcerated since October 2016, with a sentence extending to October 2036. Details regarding Umphenour’s incarceration history were not provided, but he was released from custody on January 17, 2024.

Authorities are exploring the possibility that Meade and Umphenour may have been communicating with contraband cellphones to coordinate their escape and subsequent activities.

As investigations continue into the escape, shootings, and potential involvement in homicides, authorities remain vigilant in ensuring public safety and upholding the integrity of the justice system.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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