WASHINGTON – Police are searching for an armed escaped prisoner who opened fire in a Fairfax County hospital early Tuesday morning.
Fairfax County police say Wossen Assaye, a prisoner in the custody of a private security guard, escaped from Inova Fairfax Hospital armed with the security officer’s gun at about 3 a.m. There was a struggle between the security officer and Assaye and one shot was fired, but no one was injured.
Police are searching the area looking for Assaye, who is described as a black man wearing a hospital gown and no shoes. He is 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, police say.
He is considered armed and dangerous and police say he is believed to be driving a stolen 2002 silver Toyota Camry with a Virginia license plate of XZP-8153. The vehicle has front-end damage.
Police are asking for anyone who sees a man or car matching the description or notices anything suspicious to call them at 703-691-2131.
Police say he may be with his girlfriend, and they tweeted her picture. Police have not yet released her name.
Assaye was being held by Alexandria City Police on federal charges for armed bank robbery. Assaye was at the hospital after he attempted to harm himself, police say.
Fairfax County Police Chief Col. Ed Roessler says residents in the area should be aware of the threat as authorities search for Assaye.
“We all need to be concerned because he is armed, he is a felon and he has attempted to flee,” Roessler said in a news conference Tuesday morning.
It will take several hours to go through every single building and every single room in the Inova Fairfax Hospital facility, he says.
“We don’t know that this was a planned escape,” Roessler said.
Roessler says Assaye has relatives in the D.C. metro area with whom police are working to make contact.
Around the hospital
At about 7:45 a.m., authorities lifted a lockdown at the hospital located on Gallows Road in Falls Church, Virginia. The lockdown lasted more than three hours.
Inside the hospital, an announcement came over the loud speaker telling patients to stay in their rooms, reports a WTOP staffer hospitalized at Inova Fairfax. As of 7:45 a.m., the all clear was given at the hospital and patients were permitted to leave their rooms.
Earlier Tuesday, the hospital instructed employees to go to Falls Church High School for shuttle bus pick up.
Joyce Armstrong was headed to her first day of work at Inova Fairfax Hospital when she was redirected to Falls Church High School for the shuttle service. The employee who was transferring from Inova Alexandria says she was trying to get to work early, but got caught in traffic and redirected to the school.
“I guess I’m just concerned with getting inside with being brand new, and the first day starting off,” she says.
Roads around the hospital reopened at about 7:45 a.m. Earlier Tuesday, the Capital Beltway ramps to Gallows Road were closed and roads around the hospital were closed to traffic, too.
The manhunt had major traffic implications for Tuesday morning, says WTOP Traffic’s Jack Taylor.
“Just avoid the area around Inova Fairfax Hospital as this is a very fluid situation,” Taylor says.
Below is a map with the location of the hospital:
This is a developing story.
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.