Other inmates likely killed two prisoners who died when inmates took over part of a maximum security prison in southeast Nebraska, the top state corrections official said.
State Corrections Director Scott Frakes didn’t provide many details about the deaths that were discovered Monday as officials regained control of the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution. The Nebraska State Patrol is investigating the deaths at the prison, about 60 miles southwest of Lincoln.
Speaking at a news conference, Frakes said 100 to 200 of the roughly 1,000 inmates were involved in the disturbance that began with inmates joining a large gathering in front of a housing unit Sunday afternoon.
Two prison staffers were assaulted in the initial disturbance. Frakes says one inmate was shot in the leg by a tower guard, and another inmate was injured by a rubber projectile.
Inmates took control of part of the facility that houses 11 death row inmates, the department said in a statement. Smoke rose from two housing units on Sunday and driveways to the prison were blocked. Prison officials said the perimeter was secured by Sunday evening and all staffers were accounted for. No inmates escaped.
Frakes, who just joined the department in February, said he was pleased that prison staff was able to regain control of the 960-bed facility without any further injuries to staff. But he said outside experts would be brought in to review the incident and the prison staff’s response.
The prison will remain locked down while officials decide how to proceed. The state Fire Marshall was evaluating one of the damaged housing units to determine if inmates could be safely held there.
The disturbance in Tecumseh only adds to the challenges Frakes was hired to address. The Department of Correctional Services has endured a series of high-profile problems, including hundreds of miscalculated sentences. Frakes is a former prisons administrator in Washington state.
The Lincoln Journal Star reported it received a call from inmate Jeffry Frank just before 11 p.m. Sunday via a case manager’s office phone.
“We’ve pretty much taken the whole prison,” Frank told the newspaper.
He said that no prison employees were inside the housing unit and described the scene, saying: “The ceilings are fallen. There’s drywall on fire. There’s cameras torn down,” according to the Journal Star.
At Frazier’s Cafe in Tecumseh, Wanda Frazier said she thought a farm field was on fire Sunday because the smoke coming from the prison was so thick.
“We thought they were burning fields. It was black and just rolling,” Frazier said.
Frakes said that much of the smoke came from plastic chairs some inmates burned as they were being held in courtyards overnight, and that those fires didn’t threaten the prison.
Source: The AP