1 hostage dead, 1 rescued at prison in Delaware

SMYRNA, DE -- The hostage situation at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware appears to be over.

Action News is told Delaware State Police stormed into the C Building at 5:06 a.m. Thursday.

They were able to rescue one Department of Corrections employee. That worker was being examined at an area hospital, and she is reportedly alert and talking.

The other remaining hostage, also a DOC employee, was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at 5:29 a.m.

Officials say Building C has been secured. More information is expected at a news conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Chopper 6 HD was over the prison beginning at 6:30 a.m. Thursday as dozens of inmates were led out into a paved recreation area and made to lie face down.

It was not clear at the time which building they were brought out of or the circumstances surrounding the police activity.

RAW VIDEO: SWAT team arrives at prison in Smyrna, Del.

Two of four hostages being held in the James T. Vaughn state correctional facility in Smyrna, Delaware, have been released.

In a news conference Wednesday night held by Gov. John Carney and his top staff, the released hostages were identified as correctional officers.

"It's been a long and difficult day," said Gov. Carney (D-Del.).

LISTEN: Exchange between inmate, negotiator in Del. prison hostage situation

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Action News listened all night to the back and forth between one of the inmates and a hostage negotiator.

Officials said four correctional employees were originally taken hostage, not five as they previously reported.

According to officials, one hostage was released around 2:25 p.m. About three hours later, eight inmates were released. It is not known if the inmates were being held against their will.

It was shortly before 8 p.m. when Chopper 6 caught a dramatic release that included 19 inmates and one correctional employee who had been held hostage inside Building C.

The employee was led away in a wheelchair, and then an ambulance took him to a hospital to be treated for what are said to be non life-threatening injuries.

"One staff member released and that's just prior to our arrival here along with 19 inmates," said Commissioner Perry Phelps, Department of Corrections. "At this time, we believe there are still two staff members being held in Charlie Building."

At 12:30 a.m. Thursday, 14 additional inmates were released from building C and are being securely held elsewhere.

Officials say negotiations continue for two other correctional employees, including a woman, who are still being held hostage.

As for the motivation for the hostage taking, there are reports the action is political. With the hostage-takers themselves mentioning the oppression of inmates and conditions.

"We can't speculate on what the motives are at this time," said Secretary Rob Coupe, Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

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Reaction to the inmate rebellion and hostage taking in Smyrna, Del.

Asked if some of the hostage-takers wanted phones lines to call outside the prison.

"We're working in the negotiation process. There is a discussion about phones in the negotiation process, but I can't expand any further at this time," said Coupe.

One correctional officer was injured Wednesday afternoon. We've learned that the 35-year-old guard was struck numerous times with fists and a mop wringer.

That officer was injured, officials said, but those injuries were not life-threatening.

RAW VIDEO: SWAT team arrives at prison in Smyrna, Del.

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Action News is on the scene of a lockdown at the Delaware state prison in Smyrna.

Officials say that officer was not a hostage. He was assigned duties there on Wednesday, but he was located in a different part of the prison because the facility was placed on lockdown.

Meanwhile, there was a whole slew of vehicles along the road in front of the prison. People worried about their loved ones, including Carla Bereen, whose husband is a correctional officer at the facility.

"I'm waiting to hear if he's OK because we don't even know if he's a hostage right now," said Bereen, guard's wife.

Such was the uncertainty as authorities focused their attention on the crisis inside the prison in a town where people will tell you nothing much ever happens.

RAW VIDEO: Chopper 6 over prison hostage situation in Smyrna, Del.
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Action News is on the scene of a lockdown at the Delaware state prison in Smyrna.

"It's shocking, it's shocking to hear something like this that's going on there. You don't expect everyday things like this to happen," said Andrew Pleasanton of Smyrna.

"I just found out about it, I was on Facebook Live and I heard that they were talking about our town, nothing happens here," said Ariana McClarion of Smyrna.

"I hope they settle peacefully, but they gotta do what they gotta do you know," said Jim Passeau of Smyrna.

"Hope and prayers are that they be safe and it gets ended real quick. They're just doing their job and its just wrong," said Brian Pierson of Bear, Delaware.

The incident began in Building C of the complex with a radio call for help around 10:30 a.m. That building houses between 120-150 inmates. It is also where maximum security inmates transition to medium security.

Officials would not say how many hostage-takers they believe there are, whether they have weapons or have made specific threats against the hostages.

They say there is no threat to the public.

All of Delaware's state prisons have been placed on lockdown. That includes the Howard Young Correctional Facility in Wilmington, the Baylor Women's Facility in New Castle, and the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.

Video from Chopper 6 showed a number of police officers assembling outside the Vaughn facility, along with fire trucks and ambulances.

According to the department's website, the prison is Delaware's largest correctional facility for men, housing about 2,500 inmates. It houses minimum, medium, and maximum security inmates, and also houses 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.

This isn't the first hostage situation at the prison.

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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.

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. null
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