Prisoner caught after escaping Virginia hospital

Posted at 12:20 PM, Mar 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-31 12:20:31-04

Fairfax County prisoner escapes from hospital(CNN) — [Breaking news update published at 12:03 p.m. ET]

A prisoner who escaped a Virginia hospital early Tuesday is now in police custody, Fairfax County police said.

[Original story published at 11:57 a.m.]

Prisoner at Virginia hospital grabs gun, escapes in gown, steals cars

A prisoner escaped from a Virginia hospital early Tuesday after grabbing a security guard’s gun and running off in a hospital gown, authorities said.

He then took off in a stolen vehicle, abandoned it, and stole another, Fairfax County police said.

“He may now be wearing a dark colored jacket and blue jeans,” police said on Twitter.

Why private guards?

There were two private guards with the prisoner, accused bank robber Wossen Assaye, at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia, police said.

Asked on Twitter why a prisoner would be watched over by a private firm rather than the police, Fairfax County Police responded, “This will be looked into. Focus right now is protecting public & apprehending suspect.”

After overpowering a guard and taking his gun, Assaye was seen chasing people inside the hospital, a law enforcement official said.

The hospital was put on lockdown. Roads around it were later reopened, but police remained in the area.

Assaye has a girlfriend and family in the area, and authorities said they were looking into whether he was with them.

Police reported the details of a car Assaye was believed to have stolen. They found that car, then reported the second vehicle he allegedly stole: a 2008 dark gray Hyundai Elantra with Virginia plate XTU-5024.

Assaye was being held on federal charges of armed bank robbery. He was taken to the hospital for treatment after attempting to harm himself, police said. A private security company was hired to guard him.

Assaye was arrested last week and charged with multiple robberies in the Northern Virginia area.

He was known as the “bicycle bandit” for the manner in which he allegedly made his escape after robberies.