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In escape attempt, two inmates kill a guard, officials say

September 25, 2007|From the Associated Press

huntsville, texas -- Two inmates working in a prison garden wrested guns from two guards Monday, exchanged gunfire with other officers and stole a pickup truck, running over and killing one of the guards trying to stop them, prison officials said.

One inmate was captured within an hour, soon after the pair committed a carjacking, police say. The other was caught a few hours later, after a manhunt that included a police helicopter, bloodhounds and law enforcers on horseback.

John Ray Falk, 40, the first inmate caught, has been serving a life sentence for murder in 1986. Jerry Martin, 37, serving a 50-year attempted-murder sentence since 1997, was found hiding in a tree, having stripped to his boxer shorts in an attempt to prevent dogs from detecting his scent, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said.

Based on their good disciplinary record in prison, the prisoners were classified as minimum security inmates and were assigned to do field work outside the prison under the supervision of officers.

"In this case, obviously, something went wrong," Lyons said.

They were among 76 inmates guarded by six officers in a garden outside the criminal justice department's Wynne Unit, along Interstate 45 and just north of Huntsville, Lyons said.

Either Falk or Martin approached officer Susan Canfield to ask her to hold what officials believe was a watch, Lyons said. When Canfield, who was on horseback, reached for the object, a struggle ensued and the inmate got her weapon. The second inmate was able to get another officer's weapon, Lyons said.

The two inmates exchanged gunfire with officers, stole a Huntsville city truck from a nearby parking area and ran over Canfield, 59, as she tried to stop them, Lyons said.

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