Police across the country are on the lookout for a fugitive who remains on the loose today after he was sprung in a brazen escape at a hospital in Hamilton, Ont.
Hamilton Police upgraded the search for Fawad Ahmed Nouri, 25, to a nation-wide manhunt today.
“We just want to make sure that the [police] services across the nation are aware that this individual has escaped police custody and he is armed and dangerous,” said Hamilton Police Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings.
Asked whether police believe Mr. Nouri may have left Ontario, Sgt. Collings said “anything’s possible.”
Before his escape, Mr. Nouri was in jail on charges linked to a Tim Hortons robbery and a police shootout earlier this year.
After a medical appointment Tuesday, he was leaving the hospital under the escort of two provincial guards when, around 11:20 a.m. ET, two men armed with handguns and wearing medical masks pushed the guards to the ground. They grabbed a shackled Mr. Nouri and fled, stealing a Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services van and hitting an ambulance in the process.
They dumped the van a block or so away, and took off once again in a silver Hyundai Tiburon, police say. Mr. Nouri and his two accomplices remain at large.
Hamilton police are pursuing “numerous” tips and reviewing the hospital’s video footage, Sgt. Collings said.
Police and the province are working to determine how the accomplices knew where Mr. Nouri would be. Prisoners aren’t told when their visits to the hospital will take place.
“Obviously the persons who assisted in this escape were able to obtain some sort of information that allowed them to be there at that time,” Hamilton Police superintendent Bill Stewart said. “It’s not to suggest in any way that there was any inside information. It could have been a number of different things where they just got lucky, even.”
Mr. Nouri was being held at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre, a maximum security prison, in relation to a robbery at a Tim Hortons in Hamilton on Jan. 23. After the robbery, two men were seen fleeing the coffee shop in a vehicle. Hamilton Police later gave chase to a car, which got stuck in a snowbank. Two men got out, and one was Mr. Nouri, who fired a shotgun at officers chasing him, the Special Investigations Unit alleged.
The officers weren’t hit, but returned fire, striking Mr. Nouri in the arm, the SIU said. He was later arrested and had been held in custody since, Supt. Stewart said.
The SIU investigated and cleared officers of wrongdoing.
Mr. Nouri is also known to police in Toronto. Hamilton police say Mr. Nouri has family in Toronto, and he could have headed to the city.
Stuart McGetrick, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, said the escape will be investigated. He declined to provide other details.
Hospital and prison officials declined to comment.
With a report from Josh Wingrove