A multi-hour standoff between inmates and prison guards at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware finally came to an end on February 2, according to a story by The Washington Post. The nearly 48-hour inmate takeover was finally put to an end when Delaware State Police stormed the building. Unfortunately, one officer was killed as a result of the hostage situation. Another official, a female counselor also being held hostage, was rescued.
The takeover began Wednesday around 10:30am, officials say, when inmates took four corrections workers hostage inside the prison's C Building. Officials also stated that the inmates had weapons, which they described as “sharp instruments,” although they did not elaborate.
The deceased officer, 16-year veteran Sgt. Steven R. Floyd, was "forced into a closet and killed by captors at some point," according to the head of the guard's union. Perry Phelps, Delaware's correction commissioner, offered some emotional statements at a briefing on Thursday morning. “We lost one of our family members, and it pains my heart to make these statements,” Phelps said, as he wiped tears from his face and attempted to compose himself.
According to Union President Geoffrey Klopp, Sgt. Floyd yelled to other guards who were arriving to help that the inmates had set a trap, likely saving their lives.
According to a report by NBC, all 120 inmates involved in the takeover are being considered suspects. Authorities have yet to release a motive prompting the attack, but several inmates have stated that they demanded better education, effective rehabilitation, and more information regarding the allocation of prison funding. A sole inmate claimed that the attack was prompted by President Donald Trump and "everything that he did" and "all the things that he’s doing now.”
These demands, given to a local newspaper, were similar to the demands told to police during negotiations at the scene according to Robert Coupe, Delaware's Homeland Security Secretary. Soon, police were able to rescue the female hostage using a backhoe to knock down an inmate-constructed barricade. Within two minutes, police were able to remove the female staff member from the building.
Coupe did not identify the female hostage but stated, “We are happy to say she was not injured in this ordeal, and I will go as far as to say that there were actually inmates that shielded this victim."
"Today we mourn," said Delaware governor John Carney. "And tomorrow and for a long time going forward, we also have to investigate what happened here ... 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 ... We will hold accountable anyone who was responsible. And we will make whatever changes are necessary to ensure nothing like it ever happens again."