Inmate Charged With Shooting Police Flees; Wife Believed Caught

Times Staff Writer

An Orange County Jail inmate charged with attempting to murder a Fountain Valley police officer escaped Thursday afternoon from UCI Medical Center, where he had been brought for a regular physical therapy session, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Authorities said they believe that Michael Wayde Mohon, 38, was aided by a woman and that both are armed.

Sheriff's Lt. Dick Olson said preliminary information was that Mohon escaped from outside Building 47, the medical center's physical therapy building. He said Mohon was "possibly in possession of a handgun secreted there (by someone else), and he got the drop on the deputy."

Has Cast on Arm Olson said sheriff's deputies first were notified of the escape at 2:10 p.m. Thursday. He described Mohon as six feet tall and 195 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, and said he has a cast on his right arm.

Mohon was last seen in the parking lot of the hospital, which is located in Orange, climbing into a three-quarter-ton flatbed truck with a royal-blue cab, Olson said. The truck's driver appeared to be female, he said.

Several teams of sheriff's deputies had begun a search for the escaped inmate by late afternoon Thursday, and an all-points bulletin was issued for Mohon's arrest, Olson said.

Fountain Valley Police Detective Rick Christensen said Mohon and a girlfriend were originally arrested after a Dec. 31, 1983, incident in which officers encountered the pair while responding to a report of a burglary in progress.

Chased on Foot Reserve Officer Kevin Arnold ended up in a foot chase with Mohon, but Mohon turned on Arnold and attempted to take away the officer's gun, Christensen said. A struggle ensued in which shots were fired, one of which slightly wounded Arnold, according to Christensen.

The officer then shot Mohon five times with another weapon he had, Christensen said. Mohon was arrested and charged with burglary and attempted murder of a police officer.

Mohon vehemently disagrees with the police version of how he was shot, according to an attorney representing him. He later sued Arnold and Fountain Valley police for $20 million in federal court, alleging that his civil rights had been violated because Arnold had used excessive force during the arrest, according to Stephen Yagman, the attorney representing Mohon in the suit.

Yagman said that Mohon claims in the suit, which is still in progress, that Arnold "emptied his gun into Mr. Mohon" after Mohon was already subdued and lying on the ground.

Olson said Mohon was still undergoing therapy for those gunshot wounds and that was why he was at the medical center Thursday.

Christensen said that Mohon has been known to use the surnames of Pruitt and Jennings in the past. He said that Mohon, who had no address when arrested, married Stanton resident Sharon Shaw, who was arrested with him in the 1983 incident, while in jail. He said police are looking into the possibility that Shaw was the person accompanying Mohon during Thursday's escape.

Christensen said that Shaw was charged with attempted burglary after her 1983 arrest and that he does not know the disposition of her case. Court records were not available for examination late Thursday.

Christensen said that Fountain Valley police believe Mohon was wearing only boxer shorts and a jail-issue top when he escaped from the medical center. Olson said he could not confirm that report. Both said he had been wearing an orange jail-issue jump suit when he arrived at the medical center.

According to Christensen, steps have been taken to protect Officer Arnold in the wake of the escape. He said police have no reason to believe that Mohon would return to Fountain Valley or seek revenge on the officer, however.

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