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Veteran Sheriff’s Officer Shot to Death During Inmate Escape from Jail

December 11, 1991

MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. (AP) _ A jail inmate escaped this morning after fatally wounding a deputy sheriff with a gun he stole from another deputy, authorities said.

Officers with tracking dogs and helicopters were searching for Charles William Saylor, 24, in a remote and mountainous area in northeastern Tennessee.

″He assaulted the jailer, got the keys and went out the door,″ said Mildred Lunceford, a secretary and record clerk with the Johnson County sheriff’s department.

″He assaulted a deputy in the yard, got his gun and shot another deputy, then took his car,″ she said.

The wounded deputy, Allen Lipford, 28, died at Watauga County Hospital in Boone, N.C., about 40 minutes after the 3:15 a.m. incident, said Sheriff Ed Casey. Lipford, an eight-year veteran officer, was shot in the head as he stepped from his patrol car in the jail’s parking lot.

The car was later found abandoned near Shady Valley, about 20 northwest of Mountain City, which is at the eastern tip of the state. The search was centered there late this morning.

Deputy Terry Gregg, whose gun was used in the Lipford shooting, was not seriously injured in the struggle with Saylor.

Saylor was one of 16 prisoners transferred from the Washington County jail because of overcrowding, Casey said during a news conference. He was being held for trial on charges of passing worthless checks, aggravated robbery and burglary.

He took Lipford’s gun as well as Gregg’s; both were .45-caliber semiautomatic pistols, said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Leif Jeffers.

Authorities initially believed Saylor also had a shotgun from the stolen patrol car, but the weapon was still inside the cruiser when it was found abandoned, run over an embankment, about 5:30 a.m., Jeffers said.

Jeffers said searchers believe Saylor had a 1 1/2 -hour head start, but they thought he was on foot because no stolen vehicles had been reported in the area since the escape and the abandonment of the police car.

″There is a possibility that he could have hitched a ride, but we’re going on the assumption that he is on foot,″ Casey said.

Casey planned a house-to-house search of the heavily wooded area and urged residents to keep their houses and cars locked.

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