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Inmate stabs four while attempting escape at hospital

Thursday, March 22, 2007
Daily Southtown
by STNG News Service

A Cook County Jail inmate receiving treatment at a hospital Wednesday afternoon stabbed a correctional officer and three others while attempting to escape.
Willis Reese, 25, was taken from the jail to the dermatology clinic at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County for treatment about 2 p.m., according to Cook County Sheriff’s office spokesman Bill Cunningham. While being treated, Reese asked to use the restroom.
Reese, who was wearing leg shackles but not handcuffs, walked into the restroom followed by a correctional officer. Reese then turned with a “shank” -- a jailhouse-made knife -- in his hand and lunged at the officer, stabbing him in the neck, Cunningham said. The “shank” was a five-inch long piece of thin metal sharpened at one end, he said.
A male nurse and civilian in the hallway went to the officer’s aid, but Reese cut them on their arms using the “shank” and then ran down the hallway, Cunningham said.
The injured officer chased Reese down the hallway, down a flight of stairs and out a fire escape door adjacent to the main door, Cunningham said. The injured officer caught Reese outside the hospital, where the two struggled before the inmate freed himself and ran onto a shuttle bus parked in front of the hospital, he said.
The driver of the shuttle bus confronted Reese, who stabbed the driver in the chest, Cunningham said. Officers from the Stroger Police Department and two Chicago Police detectives at the hospital on unrelated business pursued Reese on the bus and arrested him.
The correctional officer and civilians either cut or stabbed by Reese were not seriously injured, according to Cunningham, who said they were all treated at the hospital and released. He noted the “shank” was somewhat dull.
“Anytime we take an inmate outside of the jail for a medical treatment ... that creates a tremendous security risk,” Cunningham said, noting that 12 inmates were taken to Stroger for medical treatment on Wednesday and more were taken to other hospitals.
Reese, of a last known address of 1541 S. Komensky Ave., has been housed at the jail since July 2002. He recently was convicted of first-degree murder and armed robbery, according to Cunningham. He faces up to natural life in prison when he is sentenced in the next few weeks, he said.
According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Web site, Reese’s next court date is April 18.
Cunningham said authorities planned to question Reese later Thursday and will  discuss with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office filing escape charges as well as charges related to the stabbings.

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