Corrections officer slashed at Long Island Hospital, suspect still at large

Slasher came up from behind and attacked the officer as he sat outside the prisoner's ninth-floor room

By Kevin Deutsch

EAST MEADOW, NY — A manhunt continued last night for a man who authorities said slashed a corrections officer in the neck Wednesday as he guarded a prisoner at Nassau University Medical Center, sending the hospital into a lockdown.

The suspect fled after slashing the officer, officials said. Police did a floor-by-floor search and examined vehicles leaving the hospital complex without success.

Several dozen police officers searched for the assailant floor by floor and examined vehicles leaving the property with no success.

"There is a possibility that he had made his way out of the building," said Steven Skrynecki, chief of department for Nassau police. "At this point in time, we feel that is likely."

By midafternoon, the East Meadow hospital was open again but security remained tight as the hunt continued inside and outside the center and the surrounding streets.

Police said the attack on the Nassau County Sheriff's correction officer was unprovoked and occurred at 10:51 a.m.

The slasher came up from behind and attacked the officer as he sat outside the prisoner's ninth-floor room, police said. The hospital routinely treats inmates from the nearby Nassau County Jail but it was not known Wednesday night why the prisoner was hospitalized.

Authorities don't believe the prisoner knew the officer's attacker but was being questioned Wednesday night about the slashing, police said. There were no witnesses to the attack but "there's an enormous video system here at the hospital so we are methodically going through all the video, looking at all the staircases, elevators, floors," Skrynecki said.

The officer, whose name was not released, was treated for a wound that stretched about four inches from behind his right ear down to his lower neck near the throat. The weapon has not been found, and while investigators believe it was a sharp object, they are not sure what it was.

Officials said the officer was treated at the hospital and released.

In a prepared statement Wednesday night, the president of the officer's union said the victim was working alone at the time of the attack and it served as proof that two officers should be assigned to each prisoner at NUMC.

There was "no other officer assigned to maintain security, provide backup and possibly even apprehend the assailant who was responsible for this vicious assault," said John Jaronczykit, the president of the Nassau Correction Officers Benevolent Association.

Jaronczykit said union members have long been in "grave danger" due to staffing cuts at the East Meadow county hospital.

Nassau County Sheriff Michael Sposato defended staffing levels in a statement.

"There have been no staffing level reductions where inmates have been admitted to a general hospital room."

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