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Assault Suspect Escapes Custody At Mercy Hospital

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Police are searching for an assault suspect who escaped from UPMC Mercy Hospital while being treated for injuries after fleeing from a traffic stop in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Port Authority Police identify the suspect as 52-year-old Roger Cunningham. He is described as a white male, about five-feet-11-inches tall with a stocky build.

The search prompted Duquesne University to send out a “be on the lookout” text alert to students.

It said: “Police are requesting assistance locating 52-year-old white male, heavy set, dark sweat pants, dark shirt who has escaped from Mercy.”

According to police, Cunningham was first taken into custody after a traffic stop at Smithfield and Seventh Streets Downtown.

Police say Cunningham ran from the vehicle. An officer chased him down, and authorities say after wrestling with him over a pair of scissors, police managed to take him into custody.

Port Authority Police say they also found heroin on him.

Police took Cunningham to Mercy Hospital after he complained about back pain. Hospital officials decided to keep him overnight when he threatened to take his own life, police said.

He managed to get away from hospital security though when he was taken for testing later in the evening, police said.

UPMC released a statement Friday, saying in part:

“UPMC has neither the jurisdiction, responsibility nor capability to detain patients on behalf of law enforcement agencies. Prisoners in custody of the arresting law enforcement agencies remain their responsibility for the duration of the arrest process and at no time can that responsibility be transferred to UPMC. It has been a long-standing UPMC policy as well as an industry standard that an arresting agency remain with their prisoner during medical treatment in order to ensure that these patients do not escape or pose a risk to other patients.”

Hospital officials also say that no hospital staff were threatened by Cunningham or injured in any way.

The search continues.

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