LITTLE ROCK — The inmates who held two guards hostage for two and a half hours at a maximum security prison in Arkansas have been returned to state custody after being treated for non-life-threatening injuries, state prison officials said Monday.
The Department of Correction said the guards at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker were released Friday night with minor injuries while the two inmates were treated at a hospital before being transferred to another prison facility the following morning. The department said the guards were freed after officers used lethal and non-lethal weapons.
Department spokesman Solomon Graves said an officer on the team responding to the disturbance fired a gunshot but did not strike anyone.
The department said it’s conducting an internal probe, and State Police is also investigating the incident. Graves said the inmates used a homemade weapon during the incident, but declined to say whether the prisoners had access to the guards’ keys or weapons. The guards have not returned to work, Graves said.
The standoff was the latest in a series of violent incidents recently at Arkansas’ prisons. They have included other disturbances at the same prison, also known as Tucker Max.
In August, several inmates held three guards hostage after snatching their keys and a Taser. A month before that, a guard fired warning shots into the air after two guards and an inmate were attacked there. A guard at Tucker Max and two at another prison were assaulted by inmates on the same day in two separate attacks on the same day in September.
State prison officials announced several security upgrades in response to the incidents and have said they’re struggling with a high number of vacancies. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had called for additional safeguards, praised the department’s response to the latest attack.
“I am pleased with the effective response of the Correction Department officers, and I am grateful they were able to quickly resolve the situation and obtain the release of the officers,” Hutchinson said in a statement released by his office. “The attack on correction officers is unacceptable, and I trust the final investigation report by the Arkansas State Police will result in appropriate prosecution or sanctions against the inmates responsible for the attack.”