Homicide suspect who fled a Northern California hospital is captured a day after his escape

Jul 10, 2023, 9:59 AM

In this photo provided by the Placer County Sheriff's Office, fugitive Eric Abril sits after being taken into custody by police in Rocklin, Calif., Monday, July 10, 2023. The Northern California homicide suspect who fled a hospital while in custody and under guard was recaptured Monday afternoon, more than 24 hours after he escaped, authorities said. The Placer County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook that Abril was caught hiding in a residential neighborhood a few miles from the hospital. (Placer County Sheriff's Office via AP)

(Placer County Sheriff's Office via AP)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A homicide suspect who fled a Northern California hospital while in custody and under guard over the weekend was recaptured Monday near a residential neighborhood after a barking dog alerted deputies to his hiding spot in heavy brush, authorities said.

Eric Abril was caught around 12:20 p.m. in a green space near homes in Roseville, a few miles from the hospital he ran away from before dawn Sunday, said Placer County Sheriff Wayne Woo.

Deputies had combed the area all day after receiving a tip about a possible sighting. A resident walking nearby said his dog had become focused on something in the bushes, the sheriff said.

“The dog started barking. He saw somebody moving in that greenbelt area and, in fact, it was Abril. Law enforcement in the area descended quickly and Abril was safely taken into custody,” Woo said.

Abril, 35, was wearing only jail-issued boxer shorts and a belly chain that he had on when he escaped custody from Sutter Roseville Medical Center around 3 a.m. the previous day, officials said.

He was first arrested in April after authorities said he shot a California Highway Patrol officer and two hostages, killing one, in a park in Roseville, about 16 miles (26 kilometers) northeast of Sacramento.

Abril was held without bail after being charged with murder, aggravated kidnapping and attempted murder of a peace officer.

His lawyer, Matthew Bockmon, expressed relief Monday after learning his client had been recaptured. “I’m glad he’s safe,” Bockmon told the Sacramento Bee. “And I hope nobody else is hurt.”

Woo said Abril was taken by ambulance to the hospital last Thursday for an unspecified “medical episode.”

Law enforcement is investigating how Abril escaped. He was supposed to be under 24-hour surveillance at the hospital, but he managed to get away from a deputy by running down a flight of stairs, out the doors and across a parking lot.

The sheriff’s office said the deputy guarding Abril was awake when the suspect escaped. The preliminary investigation determined Abril was able to “defeat his restraints,” including leg shackles, Woo said.

“As we conduct this investigation, we will not only look into the circumstances around the escape, but we’ll also review our policies, our procedures and our equipment, quite frankly, to ensure that something like this never happens again,” Woo said. “I take full responsibility.”

More than 70 police from roughly a dozen law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, searched the area throughout the day using helicopters, drones, police dogs and armored vehicles to sweep through neighborhoods in the quiet suburbs. Police had investigated 64 leads since Sunday, authorities said.

Police had asked residents in the area to “exercise extreme caution” and call 911 if they saw Abril.

The shooting he’s accused of happened in a park where families played at nearby baseball fields and children attended camp. Highway patrol officers were attempting to serve Abril a warrant when he allegedly opened fire, wounding one officer.

When Roseville police arrived, Abril was seen carrying a gun and fleeing. Authorities say he then grabbed two civilians and held them hostage, shooting both and killing one. ___ This story has been updated to correct the name of the law enforcement agency to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, not Department.


Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

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