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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Boise hospital ambush, prison escape caught on security camera footage

Three Idaho Department of Correction officers were shot at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise early March 20. Boise police said they arrested two suspects in connection to the attack.  (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman)
By Alex Brizee Idaho Statesman

BOISE – Witness testimony during a court hearing this week provided a sliver of new information into the ambush at a Boise hospital last month that left three correctional officers injured.

Skylar Meade – one of the men accused of being at the center of an attack at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise – appeared at the Ada County Courthouse on Monday for a preliminary hearing that included testimony from several witnesses on his alleged escape.

Just after 2 a.m. March 20, 31-year-old Meade, a prisoner who was taken to the hospital for self-inflicted wounds, was being escorted out of Saint Alphonsus when 28-year-old Nicholas Umphenour opened fire on two correction officers and fled with Meade, according to law enforcement. The incident led to a 36-hour statewide manhunt that started in the Treasure Valley and ended two hours east after police arrested the two men.

A third correction officer was shot and injured by a 12-year veteran of the Boise Police Department. All three officers have since been released from the hospital and are recovering.

The suspects, who police say are members of the white supremacist gang Aryan Knights, also have been connected to two homicides in North Idaho, though prosecutors have yet to charge Meade and Umphenour with any crimes related to the men’s deaths. Idaho State Police told the Idaho Statesman last week that the investigation into the deaths of 72-year-old Don Henderson and 83-year-old James Mauney “remains under investigation.”

Boise Police Violent Crimes Det. Matthew Canfield, one of three witnesses called by the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, detailed security footage showing the suspects’ escape during Monday’s hearing. Canfield wasn’t involved in the shooting, but was called to the scene that night as one of the department’s on-call investigators to “get a lay of what was going on.”

The security camera footage – which wasn’t played in court – showed Meade being escorted out of the hospital’s emergency room department by the three correction officers into the ambulance bay where the prison van was located, Canfield said.

Typically, two officers accompany a prisoner on medical visits, but because of Meade’s security level, three officers accompanied him, the Idaho Department of Correction previously said. Canfield added that Meade was restrained on his legs, wrists and waist.

Canfield said as the officers brought Meade to the passenger side of the prison van, another man, later identified as Umphenour, approached the officers and began shooting. The suspects then ran into a parked vehicle, with Umphenour in the driver’s seat and Meade in the passenger seat, Canfield said.

It was previously unclear where the suspects, along with the correctional officers, were located during the shooting as law enforcement agencies declined to answer several questions sent by the Idaho Statesman.

Judge: There’s ‘probable cause’ Meade escaped custody

Another witness called by the prosecution, Saint Al’s Regional Director of Security Mark Roggia, said there are additional videos of the shooting that he gave to the prosecution.

“So this is just a snippet of the total that exists out there?” Meade’s defense attorney Rob Chastain asked Roggia during the hearing.

“Correct,” he responded.

Canfield said a portion of the footage that was submitted as evidence Monday is blocked by the prison transport van, adding that all the footage obtained from Saint Alphonsus doesn’t have sound but a video obtained from a private ambulance does.

While authorities have identified Umphenour, and subsequently charged him with several felonies for his alleged involvement in the escape, Canfield clarified that Umphenor isn’t identifiable in the private ambulance footage.

Umphenour and Tia Garcia, who is accused of helping the men escape, were also scheduled to have their preliminary hearings Monday but they’ll appear in court at the end of the month instead. Another woman, Tonia Huber, was charged with several felonies after an affidavit said she fled with Meade from police before the arrest.

Meade, however, didn’t want to wait, and after listening to the witnesses presented by the prosecution, the case was bound over to Ada County’s District Court. This means that 4th District Magistrate Judge Abraham Wingrove believed there was evidence to move the case forward.

Meade has been charged with a single felony for escaping custody. He’s being held on a $2 million bond, but even if he did pay his bond, Meade’s not able to bail out because of a hold from his prison sentence.

“I am satisfied to a level of probable cause that the defendant has committed the offense alleged from the state’s complaint,” said Wingrove, who also watched the video footage cited by the witnesses.

He then scheduled Meade’s arraignment – where a plea will likely be entered – for 1:30 p.m. April 17 at the Ada County Courthouse.