UPDATE Maurice Ainsworth IN CUSTODY
Police have blocked off parts of a Santa Cruz neighborhood this afternoon as they search for an armed jail inmate who escaped from custody at Dominican Hospital earlier today. The inmate, Maurice Ainsworth, a 24-year-old black man who is 6 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 260 pounds and is wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit, is believed to be holed up in a home on nearby English Drive, Santa Cruz County sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Campos said. Ainsworth escaped from custody at about 11:30 a.m.Campos said the inmate had just undergone an MRI and a female deputy was putting shackles on his feet when he punched her. The deputy fought back and the struggle continued as Ainsworth tried to leave the hospital, Campos said. Outside, the deputy was bitten by Ainsworth and she tried to use her Taser gun on him but he grabbed it from her and Tased her instead, Campos said. He then grabbed her service weapon, a .40-caliber handgun, and fired at a female bystander before fleeing, Campos said. The bystander was not hit.Ainsworth then fled into a nearby neighborhood, ending up in the 100 block of English Drive, a street that runs along a ravine.Campos said at about 3:30 p.m. that Ainsworth was still holed up in a home there but was not holding any residents hostage. Alan Erece, who lives in that block, said he was at home on the Internet earlier today when he received a recorded message from police alerting residents of the situation and noting that two schools were locked down.A short time later, he looked outside and noticed two police officers near his truck.”They were huddled next to my truck with their automatic rifles out,” he said. “It was like the movies, you know?” he said. “Kind of surreal.”At one point, he saw his neighbors, a man and a woman, come running down the street with their dog, Erece said.”I saw them, they were in our front yard,” Erece said. “They said there was a criminal in their house with a gun.”Shortly after 3 p.m., Erece had a group of reporters camped out on his front lawn, and police were down the street “huddled up” around their cars with their guns drawn, he said.Harbor High School and DeLaveaga Elementary School and a nearby day care center have been put into lockdown as a precaution.Kelly Paulsen, an administrative assistant at the high school, said early this afternoon that the lockdown began at about 12:15 p.m. and that school officials were waiting for word from authorities on what to do next. Teri Carpenter, a resident of Fairland Way, near English Drive, said her husband went for a bike ride earlier today and wasn’t able to get home because of all the police activity.She said she had received an automated message from police saying that they were searching for someone. The message warned residents to shut doors and windows and stay inside.”I just hear the helicopters right now,” she said shortly before 2 p.m.Carpenter’s husband Glenn was riding on English Drive when he saw “about 30 cops with guns and rifles.”Carpenter also said he saw about 10 SWAT members come out of “tank-type” vehicle.The Carpenters live on Fairland Way, just west of English Drive.Neighboring law enforcement agencies are responding, including sheriff’s SWAT team and a California Highway Patrol helicopter.Campos said Ainsworth was sentenced earlier this year for a home invasion robbery but hadn’t yet been transferred to state prison. As of 2:45 p.m., Dominican Hospital remained on a “modified shelter-in-place” status.”As a precaution for the safety of patients, visitors and staff, all entries are guarded and blocked,” hospital officials said in a statement.Patients are being escorted in and out by security officers.”We are cooperating fully with law enforcement and are encouraging community members to stay away unless it’s a medical emergency,” hospital president Nanette Mickiewicz said in a statement. The sheriff’s deputy who was injured is listed in fair condition, according to the hospital. At about 2:30 p.m., the nearby Secret Garden Too preschool was evacuated. All of the children are safe and are at the hospital’s Education Building on Mission Drive, off of Soquel Drive, where their parents can pick them up, hospital officials said.Please call the Fugitive Watch hot line at 1-800-9-CAUGHT (1-800-922-8448) or text us at 408-355-0999 or CLICK HERE to send a confidential email tip, if you know the name of this suspect or have any information that can help solve this crime.
Copyright © 2010 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
Stephan J. Dougan, Personal Injury Attorney
Watch Commercial Below