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Philadelphia authorities arrest man suspected of helping escaped juvenile homicide suspect, who remains at large

An 18-year-old has been arrested in connection with the Philadelphia killing suspect who escaped custody during a medical transport, the city’s police department announced Friday.

Authorities say they arrested Michael Diggs for allegedly picking up Shane Pryor, 17, after Pryor ran from two Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center counselors in the driveway of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Pryor, who is suspected of killing a woman in 2020, escaped just before noon Wednesday while he was being transported to the hospital in the University City neighborhood for a hand injury, police said.

Police said Diggs picked up Pryor in a “cream-colored Ford” shortly after his escape, and officers were able to find the car and Diggs the same day.

Diggs is being charged with hindering apprehension, escape, use of a communication facility and criminal conspiracy, according to authorities.

“The arrest marks a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to bring all those involved in the incident to justice,” according to a news release from police.

CNN was unable to determine whether Diggs has an attorney.

Pryor remained on the loose, authorities said. The US Marshals Service announced a $5,000 reward Thursday for information leading to the capture of Pryor, who authorities have described as dangerous.

The US Marshals Service said it believes Pryor may be receiving other help as he continues to evade custody.

“One hundred percent, he’s being helped by someone out there on the street,” Supervisory Deputy Marshal Rob Clark said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Clark said Pryor has been in jail since he was 14, so “he surely has help aiding his flight,” adding, “how much of the city does he really know?”

Clark emphasized that, like Diggs, “anyone (else) helping him, no questions asked, you’re going to be prosecuted.”

Police investigate whether Pryor was restrained

As Pryor was getting out of a vehicle in the driveway of the hospital, he escaped from detention center staff, Frank Vanore, deputy commissioner of investigations for Philadelphia police, said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Five minutes after his escape, Pryor was seen on video in the lobby of the hospital’s Hub for Clinical Collaboration building asking an employee to use the phone, and he left the building after being denied, the US Marshals Service said in a statement Thursday.

Pryor ran from the hospital, and he was seen on surveillance video entering various buildings trying to get resources, police said.

When Pryor left the vehicle, he did not appear to have any handcuffs or restraints on him, Vanore said. Investigators believe he wasn’t restrained during the transport either, a law enforcement source close to the manhunt told CNN.

Philadelphia police are investigating if Pryor broke free of his restraints, or if restraints were not used in transporting the 17-year-old to hospital, according to Sgt. Eric Gripp, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department.

Gripp told CNN it is standard practice for suspects to be handcuffed and shackled when transported. There were two juvenile services counselors in the medical transport vehicle with Pryor, which also is standard practice, Gripp said.

On Friday, US Marshals shed light on the moments immediately after Pryor escaped and the pursuit that followed.

The two counselors who were in charge of escorting Pryor to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia chased after him and were “extremely close,” according to Clark, but they “may have slipped,” allowing Pryor to get away.

“Wherever he’s going, we’re going to pursue him,” Clark said.

Pryor had been held on a 2020 murder charge since he was 14

Investigators believe Pryor injured himself to prompt the trip to the hospital and are “highly confident” he has received help from an accomplice to evade police, a source said.

He weighs about 180 pounds, and he’s about 5 feet, 7 inches tall, Vanore said, adding that he was wearing a dark blue sweatsuit when he fled.

Pryor was being held on a murder charge in the 2020 killing, and has been in the juvenile detention center awaiting trial since he was 14, Vanore said.

CNN has contacted the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, which runs the juvenile justice center, for comment.

“We are looking in parking garages, which are very, very large – they’re multiple levels – just to see if he’s still in the area,” Vanore said. However, officials did not believe he was in the area of the hospital as of Wednesday afternoon, the deputy commissioner said.

No lockdown was in effect Wednesday in connection with the escape. But Pryor is considered dangerous, and the public should call 911 if he is seen, police said.

“Obviously we don’t want anyone to approach him,” Vanore said. “We’re hoping that if somebody sees an individual walking without a coat – because he doesn’t have one at this point – and a blue sweatsuit, they give us a call.”

Pryor’s attorney: ‘He has always maintained his innocence’

In a phone interview Thursday afternoon, defense attorney Paul DiMaio told CNN his juvenile client has “always maintained his innocence” in the murder charges he’s facing.

“He said, ‘I didn’t do this,’ and he said it over and over again,” DiMaio said. “I have no idea why he ran.”

DiMaio told CNN neither he nor Pryor’s family have heard from Pryor since he escaped, but DiMaio said he thinks Pryor may have run because of a December court ruling that kept his murder case out of juvenile court.

“The only thing I can speculate is I know from talking to his mother and talking to him (that) he was really scared and really frustrated that the system kind of failed him (by trying him as an adult),” Pryor’s attorney said.

DiMaio said while he found Pryor to be “mild mannered” and not “dangerous,” he would still advise him to turn himself in. “It could be that this fear, this frustration might have driven him – with no one really watching him – to walk away,” he said.

CNN’s Celina Tebor and Ashley R. Williams contributed to this report.

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