Two corrections officers were assaulted and warning shots were fired by a guard when at least three Tucker Maximum Security inmates managed to escape from locked individual holding pens in a recreation area July 22.
The fact that shots were fired wasn't disclosed by prison officials to State Police officers who arrived to investigate. That came out today after the Arkansas Times inquired about a tip on the incident.
In a revised statement, Correction Department spokesman Solomon Graves said a corrections officer “fired three (3) warning shots which did not strike any individuals.”
The shots were fired during a breakout of at least three prisoners from individual holding units in a recreation area.
The shots followed assault of two correctional officers attempting to handcuff an inmate, Graves said. “The two officers were assaulted by other inmates who were attempting [to] flee the recreation area. During the incident, at least one other inmate gained access to a secured recreation pen and assaulted another inmate.”
The inmates are held in individual locked units in the recreation area and so access by other inmates indicates a breach of security within the prison. The State Police said at least two inmates escaped from their units and one entered the unit of a third inmate and stabbed him. Our original tip on the incident, which led to our inquiry, indicated more inmates may have been on the loose inside the prison, but that has not been confirmed.
The State Police were called to investigate the assault on officers, but they were not aware a gun was fired until this afternoon, when the Arkansas Times inquired.
“The State Police investigation was still active,” spokesman Bill Sadler said. “But, nobody offered any information about shots being fired."
“Based on your question and some additional questioning of ADC we learned this afternoon that 3 shots were fired,” Sadler said.
The assault of the officers occurred at 8:57 a.m.. and State Police were called at 9:10 a.m. The two investigating officers were not told about the gun shots.
When called initially by the Times this morning, prison spokesman Graves said he was aware that some inmates had “managed to slip out of their cages” but said that no shots had been fired. Later in the afternoon, he revised the statement to say shots had been fired.
Asked why the State Police hadn't been told about gunfire initially, Graves said, “The Department will be conducting an internal investigation into the incident, parallel to ASPs investigation, to include the firearm discharge. Answering those questions now would be premature.”
Neither the injured inmates nor injured correctional officers required outside medical treatment, Graves said. The State Police gave a similar account of injuries.