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Penn Police officers patrol 34th Street and Convention Avenue after an escaped prisoner notification was sent out to the Penn community on Jan. 24.

Credit: Ethan Young

A juvenile prisoner escaped from police custody at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Wednesday. 

Penn’s Division of Public Safety wrote in a 12:17 p.m. UPenn Alert that 17-year-old Shane Pryor, who was charged with murder in 2020, had escaped from Juvenile Justice Center custody while arriving at CHOP’s emergency room to be treated for a hand injury. Police believe that Pryor left the area within an hour after being picked up by an accomplice, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.  

Pryor fled police custody while being escorted out of a vehicle and ran towards the area of Civic Center Boulevard and University Avenue, according to an email to CHOP employees and volunteers obtained by The Daily Pennsylvanian. 

"Around noon today, Penn Police received a call to assist officers at CHOP," Penn Vice President for Public Safety Kathleen Shields Anderson told the DP. "When Penn Police arrived on the scene to assist, they were informed that officers from the Juvenile Justice Center were transporting a juvenile prisoner from the juvenile facility in Philadelphia down to CHOP to receive treatment." 

Anderson told the DP that the prisoner escaped while getting out of their vehicle, fled from the officers transporting him, and ran across the street, with Penn Police assisting the Philadelphia Police Department and other law enforcement agencies who had joined the search. 

Police described Pryor as about 5-foot-7, 180 pounds, and wearing a blue sweatshirt, sweatpants, and socks and sandals at the time of his escape. The UPenn Alert encouraged bystanders to call Penn Police with any sightings of the suspect, whom the Philadelphia Police Department classified as “dangerous.” 

"The suspect was eventually seen on CHOP cameras heading into one of their buildings, so the search focused on that area," Anderson said. "He was never seen going into a University building or one of the Penn Health System buildings." 

During the search, CHOP asked nonessential staff, patients, and families to vacate some of their buildings, Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Vanore told the Inquirer. The area around 34th and Spruce streets — bordering Penn’s campus — was also blocked off for the majority of the afternoon. 

"Review of CHOP security footage revealed that the individual had entered the [Buerger Center for Advanced Pediatric Care] building," according to an email from CHOP. "After careful review, it was confirmed at 4:45 p.m. that the juvenile had exited the Buerger building at approximately 12:29 p.m. into a private vehicle," and an all-clear notice was issued to CHOP employees at 5:10 p.m. 

CHOP volunteers were told to not report to their shifts on Wednesday afternoon and to "avoid CHOP's Philadelphia campus for the remainder of their day" in a separate email obtained by the DP. Appointments at Buerger Center were also suspended for the day. 

The search concluded after law enforcement received further information that the suspect was no longer in University City, Anderson said. He is now thought to be driving a stolen truck, according to 6ABC.  

Vanore told the Inquirer that Pryor went in and out of buildings in the area, reportedly requesting to use their phones, before fleeing the area.

This is Pryor's second attempt at escape. When he was first apprehended in October 2020 as a suspect in the murder of 54-year-old Tanya Harris, he ran from police when they tried to escort him into a police vehicle, according to NBC10. 

The search for the prisoner is the third such incident in the area surrounding Penn and CHOP since 2021. In Feb. 13 of that year, a juvenile in the custody of the Juvenile Justice Services Center escaped in the same area as Wednesday's incident but was later apprehended. This past November, a prisoner was apprehended at the 3400 block of Spruce Street after escaping from police custody a few hours earlier. 

"We have a very close partnership with CHOP and its security team," Anderson said. "This is a good example of the additional support and partnership in the Philadelphia law enforcement community in such a situation."

Anderson added that Philadelphia police will continue their investigation and search for the suspect with the assistance of Penn Police.