A major manhunt is ongoing in the US state of Virginia as police hunt an escaped prisoner armed with a gun, after a shot was fired inside a hospital and the facility was placed on lockdown.
While the medical campus has now reopened, Fairfax County officers are looking for the suspect, named as Wossen Assaye, who they say is driving a silver 2002 Toyota Camry with Virginia license plates.
Gunfire broke out inside Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, a suburb of Washington DC, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, police said. Fairfax County Police spokesperson Ellen Pittman said that it was unclear who fired the gun or if there were any casualties, CBS News reported.
The surrounding area has been sealed off with roads closed and residents instructed to be on alert during the manhunt.
Assaye was being held on charges of armed bank robbery when he was taken to hospital, police said. He had been in the custody of a private security officer when he overpowered the guard and fled with his gun, police said. They described him as "armed and dangerous."
In a statement on Twitter, police said: "Assaye was being held by Alexandria City on federal charges for armed bank robbery. He was taken to hospital for medical treatment after [he] attempted to harm himself. A private security firm was hired to guard him. A struggle between the two occurred in hospital and [the] prisoner overpowered [the] guard and took [the gun]. One shot was fired. No one was injured. [The] suspect fled."
He was said to be wearing only a hospital gown and no shoes at the time of his escape. Police said it was thought he might now be accompanied by his girlfriend, of whom they released a photograph.