A group of inmates was locked in an hours-long standoff Wednesday after they took hostages — including guards — at a maximum-security prison in Smyrna, Delaware, forcing corrections officials to lock down all five of Delaware’s state prisons.
One inmate spoke to The News Journal over the phone, claiming he himself was among the hostages, and an officer was stabbed. The inmate said there were “a lot” of hostage takers, talked about improper sentencing orders and gave a list of demands, according to the newspaper.
“The inmates have taken over a building,” Rep. William Carson, a member of the Delaware House Corrections Committee, told the Wilmington News Journal. State police rushed to the scene.
“We’re hearing that three to five correctional officers have been taken hostage and the inmates have control of the building,” Geoff Klopp, the President of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, told the Delaware State News.
The facility is the state’s largest men’s correctional center and houses approximately 2,500 inmates, according to its website.
Dozens of police vehicles and ambulances arrived at the scene Wednesday as helicopters circled above. Firefighters first rushed to the prison shortly before 11 a.m.
It is standard protocol to lock down all state prisons when an emergency occurs at any of them, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jayme Gravell said.
Gravell described the situation as an isolated incident, adding that there was no threat to the public.
She added that firefighters were called to the scene after reports of smoke and were being held on standby.
Video from above the prison showed uniformed officers in two groups along fences near an entrance to the prison. Later, video showed several people surrounding a stretcher and running as they pushed it across the compound. It wasn’t clear if a person was on the stretcher. People could be seen standing near a set of doors with an empty stretcher and wheelchair.
According to the department’s website, the prison houses minimum, medium, and maximum-security inmates, along with Kent County detainees awaiting trial. It is also the site of the state’s death row and where executions were carried out. The prison opened in 1971.
In 2004, an inmate raped a counselor and took her hostage for nearly seven hours at the Smyrna prison, according to an Associated Press report at the time. A department sharpshooter later shot and killed 45-year-old Scott Miller, according to the report, ending the standoff.