Manhunt underway for armed Calif. inmate
Used a stun gun on a female deputy and escaped with her gun while being transported to the hospital
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Authorities searched Monday for an escaped inmate in Northern California they said used a stun gun on a female deputy and took her gun while he was being transported to a hospital.
The manhunt in Santa Cruz for suspect Maurice Ainsworth, 24, prompted foot and aerial searches, lockdowns at area schools and evacuations of some homes in the neighborhood, authorities said.
Santa Cruz County sheriff's Sgt. Dan Campos. said officers had been positioned in the neighborhood as part of the search.
"It's very fluid at this time," Campos said. "It could change at any moment."
Ainsworth was being transported to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz when the escape occurred around 11:30 a.m., Campos said. Ainsworth overpowered the deputy and took her .40-caliber handgun, he added.
The suspect then shot at another person before running away, said Campos, who did not immediately know if that person was injured from the shooting.
An injured deputy was listed in fair condition at Dominican, according to a statement by hospital spokesman Mike Lee, who didn't immediately detail the injuries.
Deputies describe Ainsworth as 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 275 pounds. He initially was wearing a yellow jumpsuit, but deputies believe he changed into a brown jacket and plaid pants.
Shortly after the escape, a parent at the nearby Secret Garden Too preschool reported seeing a man with a gun. Cathy Latorre, who owns the preschool, later told the Santa Cruz Sentinel the 30 children in the preschool were fine.
Harbor High School and DeLaveaga Elementary School were put on lockdown as a precaution, schools Superintendent Gary Bloom said. Students were dismissed at their normal times, with some remaining at the elementary school waiting for parents to come for them.
Tim Newman, whose daughter attends kindergarten at DeLaveaga, said his wife had been picking her up when she was told by officials to stay inside the classroom with her daughter.
"My wife was in lockdown for a couple of hours with my daughter," Newman said. "She sent me a couple texts saying she was hungry."
Ainsworth had been in jail awaiting trial on charges that he committed a home invasion robbery on March 27, 2009. He and co-defendant Jyler Raines are accused of breaking into a Los Gatos home with three people inside and stealing jewelry, wallets, bank information and a car.
Ainsworth was scheduled to go to trial Jan. 10 on the felony counts.