At least two prison employees were killed, and up to 10 other people injured, when inmates at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution in North Carolina tried to escape on Thursday, officials said.
The escape attempt began around 3:30 p.m., the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said, when inmates set fire to the prison’s sewing plant.
It was unclear Thursday evening whether the deaths and injuries were from the fire or from other causes, but emergency workers reported over a police scanner that at least one officer had been “struck multiple times with a hammer,” according to The Charlotte Observer.
“We’re grateful to these fallen prison employees for their service, and we offer our condolences to their families, friends, co-workers and community on this tragic loss,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement late Thursday.
W. David Guice, the state’s chief deputy secretary of public safety, said in a statement that his department would “work closely with investigators to learn the circumstances of today’s incident and bring to justice those responsible.”
The prison, which had 729 inmates on Thursday, was locked down, as were nearby schools. At 5:18, the Department of Public Safety announced on Twitter that the situation was under control, and officials said later that no one had succeeded in escaping. “Three counts conducted have confirmed no missing inmates,” the department said on Twitter.