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Police Expand Hunt For Escaped Florida Inmate

Alberto Morales

GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) -The manhunt for a missing Nevada fugitive expanded Tuesday less than 24 hours after the convict stabbed a Miami-Dade police officer, critically injuring him.

Detective Jamie Pardinas was last listed in stable condition after surgery early Tuesday at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

The inmate, 42-year-old Alberto Morales, is accused of using his glasses to stab Pardinas four times in the parking lot of a Grapevine Walmart Monday night.

Morales was convicted in Florida in December for burglary, kidnapping and sexual battery. Florida officials were taking him to Nevada to serve a sentence for a 2008 sexual assault conviction there.

"Do not try and confront him by any means, " stressed Grapevine Police Sgt. Robert Eberling.  "He's probably very desperate at this point and willing to do anything."

A white SUV stolen earlier in the day in Grapevine - and thought perhaps to have been taken by the missing fugitive - was recovered Tuesday night along I-30 in far West Dallas.  Morales was not in the vehicle.

Officials in Miami and Grapevine said the problems began at the end of a flight into Houston.  Morales, they said, began to act disruptively - banging his head against the airplane seat.  He was not allowed to continue on the next flight to Las Vegas.

Pardinas and fellow Miami-Dade Detective David Carrero rented an SUV and started driving to Nevada, about 1,400 miles away, passing through the DFW area to meet another officer who was going to join them on the trip.

The officers and Morales stopped at the Walmart, located at State Highway 114 and Ira E. Woods Avenue, where one officer went inside to use the restroom.

"Our understanding that he was in the car. He was wearing glasses," Eberling said.  "He broke those glasses and used the earpiece to stab the other officer."

Police said the wounded detective was stabbed four times - three times in the back and once in the chest.

He had been in critical condition until surgery at Parkland, officials said.

An extensive manhunt was launched almost immediately as police officers on the ground and in the air scoured nearby businesses and warehouses in the heavily-commercial district, which also includes many roads under construction.

Helicopters from the Fort Worth Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety assisted in the search, which spread beyond Grapevine. Officers from Colleyville, Southlake, Keller and DFW International Airport all participated in the manhunt.

CBS11 learned Tuesday that security cameras at the Walmart store showed Morales walking east after he escaped. Early in the day, police focused in on a Super 8 Motel about six miles to the east in Irving.

Search teams also spread west, after a report someone saw Morales four miles away near White Chapel Boulevard, headed toward Trophy Club.

Several school districts in the area went on soft lockdowns, with exterior doors locked. The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District said police increased patrols around schools. A message from Carroll ISD Tuesday night said the district was keeping a close eye on the situation for Wednesday.

Alberto Morales mugs
Wanted Florida escapee Alberto Morales, who stabbed a Miami detective multiple times when the officials stopped at a discount store in Grapevine. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has placed Morales on the Texas 10 Most Wanted Fugitive list. (credit: Texas Dept. of Public Safety)

Detectives said Morales is capable of taking someone hostage and urged the public to check on their neighbors and co-workers.

"He needs to be treated with extreme caution. He's extremely dangerous," Eberling said. "He has a lengthy violent criminal history and him going to the extent that he did in order to get free . . . would just go to show you that he's prepared to do anything."

Morales is described as 5-feet 7-inches tall and weighing 175 pounds. Police said he has no ties in the area and may not know his way around.

The Texas Department of Public Safety added Morales to the state's Most Wanted list on Tuesday, with a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. The charges for Monday's incident alone include attempted murder, aggravated assault on a police officer and escaping from police custody.

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