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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Twin Falls woman helped suspects plan Boise hospital ambush, prosecutor says

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 Sally Krutzig and Alex Brizee Idaho Statesman

A fourth suspect was charged in connection with the Boise hospital ambush, according to the Boise Police Department.

Authorities said Idaho prisoner Skylar Meade, 31, escaped custody after Nicholas Umphenour, 28, ambushed Department of Correction officers at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, where Meade was receiving treatment for self-inflicted injuries. Umphenour shot two of the officers, while a third was mistakenly shot by police, according to Boise police.

The two men evaded law enforcement for 36 hours before they were found and arrested in the Twin Falls area on March 21, according to state police. Police said they are now linked to two North Idaho homicides – one in Nez Perce County and another in Clearwater County – that happened in that window.

Boise police announced the arrest of Tia Garcia, 27, of Twin Falls, as the latest suspect in connection with the case. She was charged Thursday with a felony for aiding and abetting escape, according to a news release from the department.

Garcia ‘assisted two violent felons’

Shawn Kelley, a legal intern for the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, said during Garcia’s hearing Thursday that Garcia is dangerous to the community because she “assisted two violent felons” in escaping.

Garcia picked up Umphenour from the Boise Airport three days before the ambush, Kelley said, and that they were seen together on surveillance footage throughout the city. Garcia also provided Umphenour with her vehicle to get away from police after the hospital ambush, Kelley said.

It’s unclear where Umphenour was traveling from, but Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Heather Reilly said during a Monday hearing that Umphenour recently traveled from Florida and had plans to go back there.

Kelley added that text messages between Garcia and Umphenour showed that Umphenour asked her to report her vehicle as stolen, which she did around 3 a.m. March 20, an hour after the hospital ambush.

“This defendant is likely to be convicted given her admissions to knowing Meade and the video footage of Umphenour, along with the text messages between her and Umphenour less than 24 hours before the shooting that were indicating a plan to report the vehicle was stolen,” Kelley said.

Kelley also said that once Meade got to the hospital, he denied any care and asked to return to the prison.

Garcia was already in custody at the Twin Falls County Jail since March 21 for a parole violation. Jail records showed she has since been transferred to the Ada County Jail. She has a $1 million bond but can’t be bailed out because of the nature of her charges, according to jail records.

“Evidence indicates Garcia had knowledge and was involved in the planning and execution of the escape,” Boise police said in the release.

Police ID Boise officer who shot IDOC staffer

Police also identified for the first time the officer who shot a Department of Correction officer at the hospital as Officer Wayne Anderson in the release. Anderson has been with the department for 12 years, according to police. Police said the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force is investigating the shooting.

IDOC Director Josh Tewalt told the Board of Correction at a meeting Monday that one of the more “heartbreaking conversations” law enforcement has had since the hospital ambush was speaking with Anderson, and everyone else involved, about what could’ve been done differently.

“It’s just heartbreaking to see how much he’s blaming himself,” Tewalt said about Anderson. “I want to say it again, and I’ll say it as many times as I have to: There’s not a person who was involved in the events that morning – including our staff member who ultimately was wounded – who has nothing but appreciation for BPD showing up when and how they did.”

“They showed up to an impossible situation. I think them responding as quickly as they did and in the manner that they did likely saved lives,” he continued. By the time Boise police arrived at the hospital, Meade and Umphenour had fled the scene, according to police.

Tonia Huber, 52, was also arrested March 21 after police found her driving the vehicle with Meade, going up to 100 mph toward Twin Falls, according to previous Idaho Statesman reporting. Huber, of Filer, was charged with three felonies: harboring a fugitive, eluding a police officer in a motor vehicle and possessing a controlled substance, Twin Falls Magistrate Judge Benjamin Harmer said in court Friday afternoon.

“The Boise Police Department is continuing to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these criminal acts, and we remain dedicated to seeking justice for all victims,” Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar said in the release. “We are thankful for the coordination among law enforcement officers and prosecutors across the state of Idaho who helped bring this dangerous situation to an end.