Three Armed Prison Inmates Escape in Stolen Car
WILDWOOD, Fla. (AP) _ Three convicted felons being returned by car from a court hearing Wednesday attacked a sheriff’s deputy, wrestled away his revolver and fled in a stolen vehicle, police said.
″The three are armed and are to be considered dangerous,″ said Vernon Bradford, spokesman for Department of Corrections in Tallahassee.
The inmates had obtained a key to their leg shackles and handcuffs and unlocked themselves at a gas station at a busy intersection near Interstate 75, halfway between the Georgia state line and Miami.
The inmates were being returned to Union Correctional Institution in Raiford after a hearing in Polk County.
Missing were Michael Page, 27, of Cocoa Beach; Robert Maliga, 24, of Fort Lauderdale and Norman Hall, 24, of Fort Pierce.
Page is serving 25-year and 15-year sentences for burglary and attempted second-degree murder. Hall is serving a 45-year sentence for sexual battery, armed robbery, kidnapping and burglary convictions and 10 years for a previous escape. Maliga is serving 40 years for armed kidnapping and sexual battery.
A fourth inmate, Lee Allen Roundtree, 23, who was recaptured shortly after the attempt, told authorities that the escape had been planned at the prison.
On their way back to the prison, when Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Harmon stppped at a gas station and escorted Roundtree to the restroom, the other three inmates unlocked their leg shackles and handcuffs, according to Sumter County Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Farmer.
Roundtree told authorities they had obtained the key at the prison, Farmer said.
When Harmon and Roundtree returned, the three attacked the deputy and took his gun, Farmer said.
The deputy was roughed up but not seriously injured, police said.
The three prisoners stole the car of an elderly couple driving to a nearby restaurant. The couple escaped unharmed, Farmer said, and no shots were fired.
Roundtree, who was still in shackles, was quickly recaptured, Bradford said. Roundtree was serving a 25-year sentence for armed robbery and one year for attempted escape.