Officer killed during prisoner escape at Roane Co. court house

Officer killed during prisoner escape at Roane Co. court house

Officer Wayne Morgan died after being flown by Lifestar to UT Medical Center in Knoxville. Officer Wayne Morgan died after being flown by Lifestar to UT Medical Center in Knoxville.

August 9, 2005

KINGSTON (WATE) -- A prisoner from Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex made a daring escape after his wife allegedly shot and killed a state correctional officer Tuesday morning.

Officer Wayne "Cotton" Morgan was gunned down while escorting George C. Hyatte from the Roane County court house in Kingston.

Morgan died after being flown by Lifestar to UT Medical Center in Knoxville. He had been shot in the stomach.

Authorities are conducting a massive search throughout the state for the Hyatte, 34, and his wife, Jennifer Hyatte. The two are considered armed and dangerous.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Amanda Sluss said Jennifer Hyatte had worked at a nurse at a prison in Tiptonville in far western Tennessee but had been fired from her job her relationship with George Hyatte.

One other officer also at the scene was apparently not hit. He attempted to return fire and authorities think Jennifer Hyatte was struck by a bullet or flying debris.

The shooting happened about 10:00 a.m. as the officers from the Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex were leading George Hyatte to a van in the court house parking lot after a scheduled hearing .

Witnesses say Jennifer Hyatte was sitting in a nearby Ford Explorer SUV.

"When the corrections officer brought him and loaded him back up, a dark-colored SUV appeared behind the van," said Kingston Police Chief Jim Washam. "Mr. Hyatte hollered, 'Shoot 'em!'"

On that signal, Jennifer Hyatte allegedly fired six shots at the officers, striking Morgan three times.

Hyatte then took off in the SUV with his wife while the other officer returned fire.

The SUV was found empty near a Subway restaurant on North Kentucky Avenue in Kingston. According to Sheriff David Haggard, officers found blood inside the Explorer and a bullet hole in the rear window.

It is believed the couple then escaped in a Gold Chevy Ventura van with black trim.

MORE ON HYATTE
Tuesday's escape is not the first for George Hyatte. Records obtained by 6 News show Hyatte was convicted of escape, a felony, in Rhea County. He started serving time for that in December 2002. He was in prison originally for a long list of crimes ranging from aggravated robbery , to aggravated assault and burglary in December 2001.
George Hyatte is described as a 34-year-old black male, 5 feet 5 inches tall and 140 pounds.

Jennifer Hyatte is said to be a 31-year-old white female, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 142 pounds, with red hair and hazel eyes.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the suspects could be headed to the Hendersonville, Tennessee area. They are considered armed and dangerous.

George Hyatte was serving time in Brushy Mountain State Prison for aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. He has a long history of crimes and has escaped from custody twice before.

Roane County High School and other area schools were placed in lock-down. No students were harmed or threatened, but the move was made as a precaution.

Officer Morgan leaves behind a wife and two children.

Gov. Phil Bredesen issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying, "I am outraged over the senseless and cold-blooded murder of officer Wayne Morgan this morning. My heart and prayers go out to his family, coworkers and friends. I want them to know that we will spare no effort to bring these criminals to justice."

In a late afternoon press conference, Washam said, "We will eventually bring them to justice. Just be patient."

This report has been compiled from information by provided by 6 News reporters Jeff Lennox, Erica Estep, Catharyn Campbell, and by The Associated Press.

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