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Pasquotank prison escape attempt leaves two guards dead

Pasquotank prison escape attempt leaves two guards dead

Two employees at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City were killed and 10 employees and four inmates were injured on Thursday when prisoners set a fire in an failed attempt to escape, officials said.

35-year-old Correctional Officer Justin Smith and 50-year-old Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden were the two officers killed.

According to the NC Department of Public Safety, around 3 p.m., inmates started a fire in the prison's specialty sewing plant, where about 30 inmates work for Correction Enterprises producing embroidered logo items, safety vests and other sewn items.

Pasquotank Correctional Institution houses 725 male inmates.

The Pasquotank County Sheriff's Department and the State Bureau of Investigation are investigating the incident.

The prison, which had 729 inmates on Thursday, was locked down, as were nearby schools. None of the inmates escaped.




Members of the Prison Emergency Response Team responded to PCI from other state prison facilities and are assisting the local prison staff, WTKR reported. Minimum-security prisoners work outside the walls on road gangs for the county recycling department and perform other community labor.

Three area schools were briefly placed on lockdown while searches were conducted.

Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools revealed to CBS offshoot WTKR a rudimentary, center and secondary school were on lockdown after an occurrence at a close-by imprison. Fires set in prison sewing plant.

Asked about posts on social media after the incident that claimed inmates had escaped from the prison, Walker called them "distressing".

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper offered his condolences for the deaths in a statement late Thursday.

"The DPS family is devastated by the tragic events that took place at Pasquotank Correctional Institution", North Carolina Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks said in a statement.

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