Smyrna, DE - The riot at the John T. Vaughn Correctional Facility is over. One corrections officer was killed and a second hostage was rescued.
According to 6ABC Action News, Delaware prison officials stormed into the C Building at the Vaughn Correctional Facility in Smyrna about 5:06 AM Thursday morning. One hostage, a Department of Corrections employee, was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at 5:29 AM.
A second hostage, also a Department of Corrections employee, was rescued and taken to a local hospital. She is reported to be conscious and alert. It has been confirmed that C Building is now secure.
In a statement issued on Thursday morning, Delaware governor John Carney said "I'm praying hard for the fallen officer's family. This serves as a tragic reminder that members of law enforcement risk their lives every day on behalf of the people of Delaware. We will stand by the fallen officer's family and fellow law enforcement officers during what is an extremely difficult time."
Governor Carney also said "This was a long and agonizing situation. I want to thank all those involved in responding, including officers at the Department of Correction and the Delaware State Police, as well as our federal partners. Our priority now will be to determine what happened and how this happened. We will hold accountable anyone who was responsible. And we will make whatever changes are necessary to ensure nothing like it ever happens again."
The standoff began on Wednesday morning, at about 10:30 AM when a DOC Officer radioed for immediate assistance in C Building. When other DOC employees responded to assist, they were taken hostage. About 100 inmates are housed in C Building but the exact number that participated in this incident has not been released.
All Delaware prisons and correctional facilities throughout the state went into lockdown as standard procedure. The inmates released one hostage DOC employee on Wednesday afternoon and a second hostage DOC employee along with 19 inmates on Wednesday night. The second hostage that was released was taken out of the building in a wheelchair and transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
An additional 14 inmates were released at about 12:30 AM Thursday morning. A total of 46 inmates that were being held hostage along with the four DOC employees were released during the incident.
The preliminary investigation shows that the reason behind the incident is political in nature. The uprising was blamed on opposition to President Trump and also the "oppression of inmates" and "living conditions." No further details have been released yet. According to Delaware Online, a "manifesto" that the inmates issued said that they knew conditions were going to change under Donald Trump. They also asked for education and rehabilitation as well as knowledge of how the prison's budget was being spent.
Many family members expressed concern about their loved ones who work at the facility. One correctional officer's wife said "I'm waiting to hear if he's OK because we don't even know if he's a hostage right now." Another family member expressed relief because she had received an email from her husband, a DOC Officer, that he was okay.
The Vaughn prison is Delaware's largest correctional facility, and houses about 2,500 inmates for minimum, medium and maximum security. It also houses Kent County inmates who are awaiting trial. The facility has 1,500 employees and has a history of violent incidents. In 2004, an inmate raped a counselor and held her hostage for seven hours. A sniper ended that incident and the inmate, Scott Miller, was shot and killed.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the fallen DOC Officer, both blood and blue, and with the injured DOC Officer.
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