Delaware

Official: Delaware prison inmates take 5 hostages, free 1

SMYRNA, Del. - Inmates at a Delaware prison held five corrections department workers hostage for hours before releasing one injured person, according to state police, who were working with other authorities on negotiations as night fell.

The hostage situation drew dozens of officers and law enforcement vehicles to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna on Wednesday and prompted a statewide lockdown of all prisons.

A preliminary investigation suggests the incident began around 10:30 a.m. when a correctional officer inside Building C, which houses more than 100 inmates, radioed for immediate assistance, Delaware State Police spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz said at a news conference. Other officers responded to help, and five Department of Corrections employees were taken hostage.

The inmates released one hostage around 2:40 p.m., Bratz said. That person was taken by ambulance to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, he said.

Authorities don't know whether anyone else has been injured, Bratz said.

Officials were negotiating with the prisoners Wednesday evening, said Bratz, who didn't give further details and did not take questions.

"We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of everyone involved and using all of our available resources," he said.

He did not say how much of the prison, which houses about 2,500 inmates, was involved in the incident. But Bruce Rogers, counsel for the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, told The Associated Press Building C was under the inmates' control.

Rogers described the hostages as four guards and one counselor. He said he'd been briefed on the situation by the union president, who was talking to officials at the scene.

Video from above the prison Wednesday afternoon showed uniformed officers gathered in two groups along fences near an entrance to the prison. Later, video showed several people surrounding a stretcher and running as they pushed it across the compound. People could be seen standing near a set of doors with an empty stretcher and wheelchair.

A Corrections Department spokeswoman said firefighters were called to the scene after reports of smoke and were being held on standby.

According to the department's website, the prison is Delaware's largest correctional facility for men. It houses minimum, medium, and maximum security inmates, and also houses Kent County detainees awaiting trial. It was the site of the state's death row and where executions were carried out. The prison opened in 1971.

In 2004, an inmate raped a counselor and took her hostage for nearly seven hours at the Smyrna prison, according to an Associated Press report at the time. A department sharpshooter later shot and killed 45-year-old Scott Miller, according to the report, ending the standoff.


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