LAKEWOOD - Western State Hospital says it is taking steps to improve security tonight. This comes after two patients escaped from the hospital this week, and two others took ‘unauthorized leaves.’ One of those patients is still missing tonight.
People living in Spokane County are relieved accused killer Anthony Garver is back in custody, after being on the run for more than 48 hours.
“It’s been extremely stressful,” says Dawn Ruder, who lives in the rural area where Garver was found last night. “We’ve had to keep our kids indoors, wondering if our vehicles are going to be broken into.”
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says Garver escaped custody several years ago.
”It’s my hope that this time the Department of Corrections and the State of Washington find a way to make sure this dangerous criminal does not escape again,” he says.
State representative Laurie Jinkins agrees. She says Garver and mark Adams are not the first dangerous patients who have escaped from Western State Hospital.
“We have seen 3 or 4 of these in the last five years,” she says. “I think it's a huge wakeup call to have it happen right now.”
Two other patients left the hospital without authorization this week. Seattle Police picked one up from the QFC in West Seattle today, after he called 911 and turned himself in. The other patient walked away from an escorted trip off campus Wednesday, and is still on the loose.
Today, DSHS announced restrictions on patient excursions through the weekend.
“Two unauthorized leaves and two escapes in one week is unacceptable and immediate steps are being taken to improve security,” wrote Carla Reyes, assistant secretary for DSHS Behavioral Health Administration.
Governor Jay Inslee released a statement today, applauding that decision. He says he’s been working with lawmakers like Jinkens to help the hospital.
“One of the things we did this last legislative session is increase salaries so we can recruit and retain more especially nursing staff,” she says.
But she admits what happened this week is proof that much more needs to be done.
“We want everyone to be safe, and right now we don't have a staffing level at the hospital where we can feel that.”