A manhunt continued Wednesday night for the suspect who authorities said slashed a correction 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, without success.
"There is a possibility that he had made his way out of the building," said Steven Skrynecki, chief of department for Nassau police Wednesday afternoon. "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 from behind to cut the officer as he sat outside the prisoner's ninth-floor room, police said.
In a different version told by union officials Wednesday night, the victim said he heard a disturbance down the hall, and after walking a few steps to investigate, was attacked. Hospital officials referred questions to police.
The hospital treats inmates from Nassau County jail, but it was not known why the prisoner was hospitalized or in jail.
Authorities don't believe the prisoner knew the officer's attacker but was questioned about the slashing, police said.
"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 stitched up for a wound that stretched from behind his right ear down to his neck near the throat. The weapon has not been found. Officials said the officer was released.
The president of the officer's union said the attack proved 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 Jaronczyk, who heads the Nassau Correction Officers Benevolent Association.
Jaronczyk said union members have long been in "grave danger" due to staffing cuts.
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."
With John Valenti