Hostage Situation Ends; Guard Taken to Hospital

12:08 PM, Jun 6, 2012   |    comments
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A guard stands watch outside the Lee Correctional Institution on June 5, 2012.

BISHOPVILLE, S.C. (WLTX) -  A hostage situation at a maximum security prison in Lee County is over, and the guard taken hostage has been safely recovered.

Just before 5 a.m. Wednesday, correction officials announced the situation ended almost six hours after it began at the Lee Correctional Facility.

Around 9 p.m. Tuesday, a guard escorted a nurse as she was passing out medication unit in the Special Management Unit of the jail. As they were making the rounds, he was overpowered by a group of inmates.

"Medications were being delivered through a slit in the door - usually the door in that section is not open," said Clark Newsom, the spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Corrections. "For some reason or another, that door was open and at time the officer who was accompanying the nurse was overtaken by a number of the inmates. The nurse was able to get out."

Officials say the guard was then put in prison clothes and was handcuffed.

Local law enforcement joined the effort to contain the situation, and the Department of Corrections' rapid response team and special response team were called to the scene.

"It was a long effort through the evening a lot of negotiating going on back and forth,"Newsom said. "Some of the prisoners had illegal cell phones and had gotten in touch with local authorities who got in touch with us. So there were ongoing conversations through the evening. Nothing was happening concrete which made us think it was a pretty disorganized effort."

Around 3 a.m., the decision was made to enter the building after negotiations failed. Devices were put on the door of the facility to blow them off the hinges, and officers went inside the wing.

The guard was found with some blood on his head, but was otherwise okay. He was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Newsom says the inmates did not put up any fight.

The inmates in the Special Management unit are mostly prisoners serving life sentences.

"The Lee Correctional Institution is a maximum security facility, so you've got everything from murderers to's pretty tough characters...a lot of folks with life sentences...some folks sometimes that probably feel they don't have a lot to lose," Newsom said.

Originally, it was thought that 50 to 60 inmates were involved, but the exact number isn't known at this time. Newsom says officials will review security cameras in the prison to learn more over the next several hours.


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