By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - An Idaho homeowner shot and wounded an escaped inmate who had made his getaway by slithering across crawl space above the jail ceiling and then fleeing on foot through the facility's front door, authorities said on Friday.
Roy Bieluch, 48, who had been incarcerated on felony charges tied to illegal weapons and drugs, had been at the center of an extensive manhunt in northern Idaho after his Tuesday escape from the Shoshone County Public Safety facility in the small mountain town of Wallace.
A local homeowner, Brian Becker, found Bieluch on his property south of Wallace on Thursday evening. He fired a single round at the escapee using a handgun after Bieluch refused an order to stand in place and instead approached him, said Shoshone County Sheriff Mitch Alexander.
Bieluch was treated for leg injuries and was released by a local hospital. He is at a jail in nearby Kootenai County, where he will be arraigned on charges stemming from his escape.
Alexander said it was unclear why Bieluch was on Becker’s property. The inmate was not armed and carried no supplies other than a bedroll when taken into custody, he said.
The sheriff applauded Becker for his actions, saying the former enlisted U.S. Marine immediately called police to report Bieluch was on the property and sought to keep the inmate in place until deputies arrived.
"I support the homeowner in what he did 100 percent," said Alexander, adding it was common for residents in an historic Idaho mining district known as the Silver Valley to own firearms for hunting, target practice and self-defense.
Alexander said the decades-old jail in Wallace, where Bieluch accessed the ceiling crawl space through a closet, no longer met current standards for security and modifications to the structure over the years did not remedy deficiencies.
A local contractor was working on Friday to seal off possible avenues of escape, the sheriff said.
(Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Lambert)