A man arrested on suspicion of loitering Monday morning managed to slip away from police outside Baltimore's busy Central Booking Center but was shot in the leg by a corrections officer guarding the back gate.
The man, police and jail officials said, continued to flee and climbed over the 14-foot chain-link gate topped by strands of barbed wire. He then leaped over a steep embankment and ran into a parking lot below the Fallsway and East Eager Street before police caught him.
The escapee, whose name was not released, was taken to an area hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. "Charges are imminent," he added, but said police would wait until after the man has been treated.
"He's in the hospital in stable condition," Guglielmi said. "We will release his name upon formal charges."
The shooting happened about 11 a.m. It was the first reported at Central Booking, which opened in 1995 and is considered one of the busiest such facilities in the country, processing 68,000 inmates last year, officials said.
Mark A. Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said the corrections officer followed protocol and was authorized to use deadly force to prevent an escape.
"It's his responsibility to guard that gate," Vernarelli said. "His whole mission is to prevent anyone from escaping and protect the public."
The agency's internal investigations unit is investigating. Vernarelli said the officer is a 12-year veteran.
Baltimore police cars, mounted patrol and a police helicopter blanketed areas around Interstate 83 and the Fallsway between Madison and Chase streets in response to the shooting and escape until word reached units that the escapee had been rearrested.
Dominic Presti, an 18-year-old from New Jersey being held inside Central Booking, said jail employees briefly stopped processing arrests while security was heightened and police pursued the escapee.
"They made us wait in there," he said.
The man who escaped had been arrested for his alleged behavior at convenience stores in Northwest Baltimore, where, officials said, he would open unpurchased bags of chips and drinks to intimidate clerks while threatening to take over the grounds to deal drugs, said Maj. Johnny Delgado, commander of the Northwestern District.
The man had done this repeatedly in stores around Liberty Heights Avenue and Garrison Boulevard, Delgado said, but police hadn't been able to catch him until they found him Monday.
They arrested him, put him in plastic hand restraints and drove him to Central Booking in a police van, Guglielmi said. During the drive, the man found a way to slip out of the restraints. When Baltimore police officers tried to turn him over to jail officers, he bolted, Guglielmi said.
He was not formally charged with loitering because he wasn't processed before he escaped, police said.
After the arrest, investigators and jail officials eyed the fence and took photos of the steep embankment the man ran down, marveling at how far he had gone with a bullet in his leg before he was caught.
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