By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona jail inmate who managed to slip out of restraints and flee during a routine trip to a Phoenix hospital on Tuesday was shot and killed in the foiled pre-dawn escape bid, authorities said.
The inmate, identified as 23-year-old Angel Frescas, made the attempt as he and two other Maricopa County jail inmates were being unloaded from a van by two detention officers in front of the county hospital east of downtown Phoenix.
"He was able to slip out of his handcuffs and leg restraints and took off running through the parking lot and into a neighborhood," sheriff's spokesman Deputy Joaquin Enriquez said, adding that one of the officers caught up to the inmate and tried to apprehend him when a struggle ensued.
"There was a fight over the officer's gun and then shots were fired," Enriquez said.
No one was hit during that initial skirmish. He said another detention officer arrived at the scene and fired two rounds at the inmate, who was struck in the chest and head.
Enriquez said Frescas died hours later at the hospital.
Authorities said Frescas was booked into county jail last month on suspicion of aggravated assault on three police officers and resisting arrest. He had also been on probation for a weapons violation, Enriquez said.
The Maricopa County jail system is one of the nation's largest, with about 8,500 prisoners. Overseen by controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, himself under fire from the U.S. Justice Department for a crackdown on illegal immigrants that the government said involved racial profiling, the jails have faced heavy criticism and lawsuits over treatment of inmates.
(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Curtis Skinner, Eric Beech and Ryan Woo)