08/09/2005

Officer shot and killed at Tenn. courthouse; inmate, wife sought

By DUNCAN MANSFIELD
Associated Press Writer

KINGSTON, Tennessee- A prisoner escaped Tuesday after his wife shot and killed a correctional officer accompanying the man to the courthouse, authorities said.

Authorities launched an extensive search for George and Jennifer Hyatte, Department of Correction spokeswoman Amanda Sluss said from her office in Nashville.

The officer, Wayne Morgan, was airlifted to University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville where spokeswoman Lisa McNeal said he died shortly after 10 a.m.

The incident began Tuesday morning after the inmate was sent to the Roane County Courthouse from Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex, where he is serving 35 years for aggravated robbery and aggravated assault, Sluss said.

"His wife, Jennifer Hyatte, was at the Roane County Courthouse. She had a shotgun and pulled the shotgun on three transportation officers from the prison," Sluss said.

Sluss did not know why George Hyatte, who was about two years into his prison term, had been brought to the courthouse.

Helicopters were circling over the town of about 6,000 people, which county Emergency Management Agency spokesman Scott Stout called "small town USA." Schools were locked down and roads around the courthouse were closed.

"It's a full-blown investigation and a full-blown search," Stout said.

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