Howard County police are searching a wooded area near Clifton Perkins Hospital Center after someone spotted a man in the woods close to where a prisoner convicted of attempted murder escaped last week.
David M. Watson has been on the loose since last week. He was convicted of shooting at a police officer's home and is suspected of shooting at two officers' homes.
Someone called 911 about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday after spotting a man near the railroad tracks behind a building in the 8200 block of Dorsey Run Road, police said. The caller said the man was wearing a white hard hat and a safety vest. The man ran off when he was spotted.
Police responded to the area and ruled out a number of workers as possible suspects. Police discovered a hard hat and safety vest had been stolen from a storage building about a mile away.
They also found packing materials inside of a concrete drainage tunnel. Investigators believe Watson may have recently been in the tunnel and found shoe prints in the area.
Watson, 28, was being transported to the hospital on Friday for a psychiatric evaluation. When a guard opened the van in the hospital parking lot, Watson pushed the guard down and ran into nearby woods, police said.
Authorities searched for Watson in the area surrounding the hospital, but they were unable to find him.
On Wednesday, police received an unconfirmed report of a man in the wooded area near the hospital.
Police believe Watson managed to get out of his handcuffs and waist chain inside the van, Howard County Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said Friday. Both were found outside the van, according to police.
His leg shackles were not found, but his sweatpants were found in tact, Llewellyn said. He would have had to free at least one of his legs from the shackles to remove the sweatpants without ripping them.
Police do not know whether Watson had planned the escape or had any help.
He was last seen in the area of Dorsey Run Road and Patuxent Range Road in Jessup. Some of his clothing was found in the woods, and a K-9 was able to pick up the direction in which he fled.
Police say Watson has ties to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and to Delaware.
He was serving a sentence in Delaware for attempted murder for shooting a police officer's Laurel-area home. He is also charged with attempted murder on the Eastern Shore, where authorities say he shot at two officers' homes.
Watson is white, 5 feet 8 inches and weighs 140 pounds. He has tattoos between his eyes and under his right eye, as well as several on his body.
A $10,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to Watson's arrest.