Hostage standoff at Delaware prison ends with one dead; inmates blame Donald Trump leadership

Smyrna: Police breached a building at Delaware's largest prison early Thursday morning, ending a nearly 24-hour hostage standoff that left one staffer dead.

Inmates took over the building at the James T Vaughn Correction Center, taking four employees hostage. The inmates told a local newspaper that concerns about their treatment and the leadership of the US had prompted their actions.

The Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna in Delaware. AP

The Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna in Delaware. AP

Authorities did not immediately explain how the officer died. They said Delaware state police entered the building about 5:05 am on Thursday and found the man unresponsive. He was pronounced dead 25 minutes later. A second Department of Correction employee who had been held hostage was rescued. She is being examined at a hospital. The prison is in Smyrna, about 15 miles north of the state capital Dover.

Delaware governor John Carney said the priority now is to determine what happened and why. In a statement released on Thursday, the governor said officials will "hold accountable anyone who was responsible" for taking the hostages. He said officials will "make whatever changes are necessary to ensure nothing like it ever happens again".

A news release from the Delaware Department of Correction said 14 more inmates were released about 12:30 am on Thursday
from the building where the hostages had been held and were being held elsewhere at the prison. The news release said a total of 46 inmates had been released from the building since the hostage situation began.

The situation drew dozens of officers and law enforcement vehicles and prompted a statewide lockdown of all prisons. One hostage was released on Wednesday afternoon and another was released hours later.

A preliminary investigation suggests the disturbance began about 10:30 am, 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. Other officers responded to help, and the employees were taken hostage, he said.

Robert Coupe, secretary of the Delaware Department of Safety and Homeland Security, said authorities don't know "the
dynamics of the takeover" or whether inmates had been held against their will.

One of the freed employees was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said. The condition of the second wasn't immediately available. Earlier in the day, inmates reached out to The News Journal in Wilmington in two phone calls to explain their actions and make demands. Prisoners funneled the calls to the paper with the help of one inmate's fiancee and another person's mother. The mother told the paper that her son was among the hostages.

In that call, an inmate said their reasons "for doing what we're doing" included "Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he's doing now. We know that the institution is going to change for the worse".


Published Date: Feb 02, 2017 09:48 pm | Updated Date: Feb 02, 2017 09:48 pm


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