EDGERTON, MO. (AP) — Two of three inmates who walked away from a Kansas prison and are believed to be holed up in a rural northwest Missouri home started communicating with negotiators Friday afternoon — hours after the standoff began.
The men were communicating with officers who surrounded the house in a rural area near Edgerton, about 30 miles north of Kansas City, said Capt. Erik Holland, spokesman for the Platte County Sheriff's Office.
Holland declined to discuss the content of the communications.
"The fact that they have started communicating is a positive sign that things are moving forward," Holland said. The third inmate's whereabouts are unknown.
On Friday morning, Platte County officers tried to pull over a stolen car in Platte City. Shots were fired at deputies at least twice during the ensuing chase, Holland said. The officers, who did not return fire, were not injured.
The men bailed out of the vehicle after it became stuck in the home's yard. They then broke in through a back entrance, Holland said.
Authorities believe the two men escaped with another man from the Lansing Correctional Facility in Kansas early Friday, but Holland said, "we don't know that for sure."
Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said the two men believed to be in the house are Allen M. Hurst, 31, and Scott A. Gilbert, 49, who were both convicted in Sedgwick County, Kan., in 2010 of multiple counts of burglary and theft.
Authorities said they are searching for 57-year-old Randy A. Ridens Sr., who was convicted in the Kansas counties of Shawnee and Douglas in 2010 of several burglary counts and one count of theft.
"We have a couple pretty good leads on Ridens, and we are tracking that down," Barclay said. "We hope to have Ridens safely in custody sooner rather than later."
He said authorities believe Ridens parted ways with Gilbert and Hurst before the chase.
The homeowners weren't there when the suspected escaped inmates arrived, but have told police there are firearms in the house. Holland said because the home has food and water, "it creates the possibility that they may be there a long time."
There is no connection between the homeowners and the men inside, Holland said.
Multiple law enforcement officers were on the scene. Area TV broadcasts show lines of police cars surrounding the area and Highway Z, the only road that goes past the house, was closed.
The North Platte R-1 School District kept students at an Edgerton intermediate school that serves fourth- to -sixth-graders inside for most of the day, although most of the students and staff were elsewhere Friday participating in field day.