Oct 12, 2017, 11:27 PM ET

2 dead, 10 injured after attempted prison break in North Carolina


Two prison employees were killed and 10 others hospitalized with injuries after an attempted prison break in North Carolina, officials said.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety on Thursday night identified the fatalities as correctional officer Justin Smith, 35, who provided security in the Correction Enterprises Specialty Sewing Plant. He had worked as a correctional officer since 2012. The other fatality was correction enterprises manager Veronica Darden, 50, who supervised inmates working in the Specialty Sewing Plant. She had been a correction enterprises employee since 2007 and previously worked as a correctional officer.

Three prison employees remain in critical condition, while seven were treated and released. Four inmates were also injured in the attempted prison break.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement, "Those who work in our prisons do a difficult and demanding job that is critical to our safety. We're grateful to these fallen prison employees for their service, and we offer our condolences to their families, friends, coworkers and community on this tragic loss."

The incident occurred Thursday afternoon at the Pasquotank Correctional Institute in Elizabeth City, a dispatcher at the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office told ABC News.

Around 3:30 p.m., an inmate set a fire in the sewing plant, which injured several employees, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

"Our hearts are broken by this tragedy that took members of our Correction family," said W. David Guice, chief deputy secretary of the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. "Words cannot express our deep sorrow. We will work closely with investigators to learn the circumstances of today’s incident and bring to justice those responsible."

The prison currently houses 729 inmates, according to the department of public safety. Correction Enterprises, which works within the department, operates a sewing plant on site.

Three of the 10 patients sent to the Sentara Albemarle Medical Center were transferred to the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Virginia, said Sentara Healthcare spokesperson Peter J. Sengenberger in a statement.

The health care system asked the families of patients bring government-issued identification and the patient's full name with them to the hospital. The injuries to some of those involved are serious, according to Keith Acree, North Carolina Department of Public Safety spokesperson. He added that to his knowledge, no one escaped from the prison.

The conditions of the patients were not released.

Three local public schools were placed on lockdown following the incident. Students on school buses who had not already arrived home were brought back to the schools due to the potential of inmates being in the area, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools said on Facebook. The lockdown has since been lifted.

The situation is under control, the department of public safety said. Further details were not immediately available.

ABC News' Alex Faul, Ben Stein and Rachel Katz contributed to this report.

News - 2 dead, 10 injured after attempted prison break in North Carolina

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  • Julian Apostate

    When there is no doubt that the inmates murder while in prison they should immediately be put to death in less than 30days.

  • matt ridgeway

    Most riots in prison come from the inmates who feel they were disrespected by an officer or wronged

  • David Cooper

    These type of horrendous outcomes put into serious consideration the use of a lot of the programs in place in many jail systems, to allow inmates to participate in any activities other than those needed to keep them alive. Perhaps it sounds harsh, but in my opinion people sent to jail are there to pay a debt owed to society as a direct result of their illegal behaviors. This is not summer camp or a training course if they want to be educated to help them be productive members of society let them do so after their time is served and build it in to be a part of their individual mandatory release program which they are financially responsible for. We give to many benefits to those incarcerated who by their own believe systems and actions are not truly deserving of such programs. We allow lawyers to bend and twist the law to accommodate the guilty with plea deals and convoluted interpretations of the law, statutes and the Constitution to the point where it is a joke due to the simplified, watered down sentences handed out for vile indignities perpetrated against the innocent public.

  • Mike O

    Put these animals in a cell for 24 hours a day as can't trust them in a Plant environment obviously

  • USAF Retired

    Doesn't state how they were killed. Correctional officers don't carry guns.

  • gbgentleman

    Every single inmate attempting escape should now be charged with 1st degree murder.

  • Captain Insanity

    Don't try to escape without a Michael Scofield. It just doesn't work very often. A Steve McQueen works, too, though, from time to time.

  • E Sverdrup

    We need to put magnetic type shock collars on inmates which go off if they go near each other or guards and fencing. And a cyanide tablet in their abdomens which will go off outside the facility.