Prosecutors: Escaped inmates tried to ambush pursuing officers

Platte County prosecutors on Saturday charged two escaped Kansas prison inmates each with 12 felonies after they allegedly fired a shotgun at Missouri officers Friday during a high-speed police chase.

Shotgun rounds hit four police vehicles, damaging them, but no officers were hurt in the chase, which started about 10 a.m. At one point during the nearly 30-minute chase, the inmates allegedly tried to stage an ambush by slowing down after passing over a hill so they could get a more accurate shot as officers crested the hill, according to court records released Saturday.

Suspects Allen M. Hurst, 31, and Scott A. Gilbert, 49, walked away from a minimum-security Lansing prison early Friday. Each is now charged with four counts of first-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, five counts of armed criminal action, one count of attempted kidnapping, one count of resisting arrest and one count of tampering.

The attempted-kidnapping charge stems from the inmates’ alleged attempt to force the mayor of Edgerton, Mo., into their stolen truck by pointing the shotgun at him. The mayor, whom they apparently happened to encounter while circling the city, refused and the truck sped away.

The inmates had been serving time for convictions, including burglary and theft. They now face up to life in prison if convicted of the new charges, said Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd.

“Society is obligated to do everything it can to defend law enforcement officers who take an oath to protect the rest of us,” Zahnd said at a news conference Saturday. “We will use every resource of the state of Missouri to prove the allegations against these two defendants.”

Authorities had linked the inmates to a stolen truck and traced the truck’s location through GPS, according to court records. A Platte City sergeant then spotted the truck leaving a McDonald’s restaurant at 2001 N.W. Prairie View Road. The sergeant tried to stop them, but the truck sped away eastbound on Missouri 92 and then Interstate 29. Platte County deputies joined the chase, and the passenger in the truck fired at four officers. Police also saw the passenger reloading the weapon in the vehicle.

After the chase, the inmates stopped the truck in the 8700 block of S.W. Route Z in Clinton County, where they allegedly broke into a home. The inmates eventually surrendered to police negotiators more than six hours later. Police recovered a shotgun from the home, according to court records.

The shotgun was believed to have been inside the truck when the inmates allegedly stole it, said Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen.

Gilbert, who has been in prison off and on since 1985, racked up a sizable disciplinary record behind bars. He was cited with 40 disciplinary reports including fighting, arson and a previous escape in 1986.

Hurst was sent to prison in 2011 and was cited in April for a disciplinary report that said he violated a felony statute.

A third inmate also walked away from the same Lansing prison Friday. Randy A. Ridens Sr., 57, was arrested without incident in Topeka on Friday night.

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