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Published: Thursday, 1/3/2008

Police kill prisoner who fled hospital

Poke Poke
AP Enlarge

LAUREL, Md. - An inmate who escaped from a hospital yesterday, briefly taking a worker hostage and stealing two getaway cars, was cornered by police hours later in a cemetery and killed in a shootout, authorities said.

Kelvin Poke, 45, overpowered guards at Laurel Regional Hospital and fired several shots before fleeing, authorities said. He shot out the window of a car and drove away, dumping the driver, Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said.

Poke was tracked down hours later about 30 miles away. Officers had tailed a suspicious vehicle - a white Ford Explorer with flat tires - into a cemetery shortly after 3 p.m. Poke got out of the vehicle and opened fire on police, who shot back, police said.

Poke was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Maj. Joseph McCann of Prince George's County Police said.

A woman who was in the vehicle with Poke was not seriously injured. Police believe she may have been a victim.

Poke fled the hospital two days after he was admitted while complaining of chest pains. He was wearing leg shackles but not handcuffs when he overpowered several prison guards and took two guns.

Poke held a hospital guard hostage as he made his way to the lobby, then fled alone.

Three schools were locked down as authorities hunted for Poke, who was serving life plus 40 years for kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery.

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