One guard freed in prison standoff - East Valley Tribune: News

One guard freed in prison standoff

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Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2004 6:00 am | Updated: 4:57 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

BUCKEYE - One of two correctional officers held hostage by two inmates for nearly a week climbed down from a prison guard tower to safety Saturday.

The guard, a man who was not identified, was taken to a Valley hospital after his release. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Cam Hunter said she had no immediate details on his condition but said authorities were encouraged he was able to climb down the ladder on his own.

His release occurred after negotiators delivered an item demanded by the inmates, Hunter said. A second item was delivered as part of the exchange agreement after the hostage was let go.

She did not reveal what the inmates were given.

Negotiators were still working for the freedom of the other hostage, a woman who remained with the two inmates in the tower, which is believed to be stocked with weapons. Alan Ecker, a Corrections Department spokesman, said the female officer was believed to be OK.

‘‘The safe return of one corrections officer is very encouraging and we are making sure that this brave person is receiving the best of care,’’ Gov. Janet Napolitano said in a statement. ‘‘But this is not over. There is another officer being held, and this remains a delicate and dangerous situation.’’

Fellow correctional officers were heartened by the release.

‘‘The negotiators are doing a fine job. This is a good sign that they were able to come to some kind of agreement,’’ said Joe Masella, president of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers’ Association.

The release of the correctional officer occurred after an inmate, wearing a guard’s uniform jacket, lowered a bucket over the side of the threestory tower and then pulled it back up.

A ladder was placed against the side of the tower and a short time later, an officer could be seen putting on a backpack and climbing down the ladder as the inmate held the top of the ladder.

After the guard descended, the inmate shoved the ladder away from the side.

The inmates took the guards hostage early Jan. 18 in the tower at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, near Buckeye west of Phoenix.

At least one inmate overcame two guards and a worker in the kitchen before making his way with another inmate to the tower.

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