A Burnet County Jail inmate led local law enforcement agencies on an almost five-hour manhunt Saturday morning when he stole an officer’s gun and escaped from custody after being treated at a Cedar Park hospital, authorities said.
The inmate, 40-year-old Murl Lamb, was at Cedar Park Regional Medical Center undergoing treatment for minor injuries to his wrist, said Mike Harmon, assistant chief for the Cedar Park Police Department.
After being treated, Lamb assaulted the Burnet County corrections officer who had taken him to the hospital and stole his .40-caliber gun before escaping toward the 1890 Ranch Shopping Center across the street about 6:30 a.m., Harmon said.
About 7 a.m., Lamb used the stolen gun to shoot off the shackles around his ankles, Harmon said. Lamb was not handcuffed during his hospital visit.
Four hours later, police found Lamb, barefoot and dressed in his black-and-white prison jumpsuit, behind the Cinemark movie theater across the street from the hospital. He was arrested without incident and the stolen gun was recovered, Harmon said.
A stylist at a nearby children’s hair salon said she received a 1 p.m. phone call from police saying that the armed man had broken into her Jeep. After ripping out wires under the steering wheel in an attempt to start the car, he stole a 3-foot plastic storage bin in the back, stylist Allison Massey said.
Police told Massey that the man was found hiding in a nearby Dumpster with the storage bin on top of him, she said.
“We were imagining him scurrying around underneath it,” Massey said, laughing with her fellow cosmetologists at Pigtails and Crewcuts. “Thank goodness I didn’t go out to my car, though, ’cause that would have been super-scary.”
The shopping center was filled with police cars for most of the morning. About 9:15 a.m., area businesses received a phone call with an automated message from police describing Lamb and asking anyone who saw him to call 911.
The message was also sent throughout the city, and employees of Amy’s China Bistro near the theater said they had half as many customers as usual for a Saturday afternoon — though not everyone was deterred.
“The first table said they heard it on the radio and were worried, but they were hungry and came anyway,” hostess Shulamit Martinez said.
At the Which Wich restaurant next door, employees kept locking the front door behind customers “just to be on the safe side,” employee Sera Luedke said.
Police said that the corrections officer assaulted by Lamb sustained minor injuries but that no one else was hurt during the escape. Lamb was booked into the Burnet County Jail in August on aggravated robbery and burglary charges and for a parole violation.
Further charges are pending and could include escape from custody and assault on a corrections officer, police said.