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During the manhunt, the hospital and three nearby schools — Laurel High, Deerfield Elementary and James Harrison Elementary — were locked down.

Another prisoner escaped from the hospital less than two months ago. On Nov. 13, Kamara Mohamed, of Oxon Hill, attempted to take a gun from the female corrections officer guarding him. The charges against Mohamed, 39, include attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and disarming a law-enforcement officer. Mohamed, who was facing auto-theft charges, was captured at a construction site about three hours later.

Investigators are “thoroughly reviewing every element of today’s terrible incident to determine what if anything could have been done — or could be done in the future — to prevent this from happening,” Mr. Vernarelli said.

The most recent available statistics from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services show one escape and 123 “walk-offs” — inmates who left a work site outside prison gates — in fiscal 2007 that ended June 30. That was down from two escapes and 189 walk-offs in 2006, and three escapes and 165 walk-offs in 2005.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.