1 Officer Dead, 1 Rescued As Police Storm Building At Delaware Prison Ending Standoff With Inmates

Yesterday a Delaware maximum security prison, the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) in Smyrna, Delaware, went on lock down when an unknown number of inmates seized control of a building and took 4 prison guards hostage.  Now, after a nearly 24-hour standoff with inmates, the prison has once again been secured after a raid on the building by State Police, but only after 1 prison guard lost his life and another was hospitalized.


In a series of calls with Delaware Online yesterday, inmates made a list of demands, including educational and rehabilitation programs, and expressed concern that the new Trump administration would cause conditions inside the prison to "change for the worse."

"I'm just doing what I'm being told to. I'm just trying to help, ma'am," the man told a News Journal reporter. "They just need somebody to hear their demands." The man would not give his name because he said he was instructed not to.


The demands came in the form of a manifesto or decree and mostly called for prison reforms.


"Improper sentencing orders. Status sheets being wrong. Oppression towards the inmates," the voice continued.


Prisoners funneled a second call to The News Journal through a woman who said her son was in Vaughn Correctional and was being held hostage.


"We’re trying to explain the reasons for doing what we’re doing," one of the voices on the call said. "Donald Trump. Everything that he did. All the things that he’s doing now. We know that the institution is going to change for the worse. We know the institution is going to change for the worse. We got demands that you need to pay attention to, that you need to listen to and you need to let them know. Education, we want education first and foremost. We want a rehabilitation program that works for everybody. We want the money to be allocated so we can know exactly what is going on in the prison, the budget."

Here is a recording of the calls from inmates:


According to the commissioner of the Delaware Department of Corrections, as of this morning 82 inmates and 2 prison guards were still holed up immediately prior to a raid by State Police that finally ended the standoff.

Perry Phelps, the new  commissioner of the Delaware Department of Correction, who was confirmed just two weeks ago, said at an evening press conference that the radio call activated the Department of Correction Emergency Response team because staffers were taken hostage.


Phelps then said that earlier reports of five staffers being held were incorrect. Only four staffers were taken hostage. One officer who was injured was released at 2:25 p.m.; at 5:25 p.m. eight inmates were released; and just before 8 p.m., another staff member and 19 inmates were released. On Thursday at about 12:30 a.m., 14 more inmates were released.


Eighty-two inmates remain in Building C, according to the Department of Correction.


And here is a timeline of events from the Deputy Director of the Delaware Department of Corrections.


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For those who missed it, here is our initial reporting on the hostage situation from yesterday.

Developing:  Department of Correction Response Teams and the Delaware State Police are currently responding to a hostage situation at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) in Smyrna, Delaware.  According to initial reports from Delaware Online, inmates of the correctional facility have taken over a building and are thought to be holding multiple officers hostage.

Rep. William Carson, a member of the House Corrections Committee, said he had been told it was an “apparent hostage situation.”


“The inmates have taken over a building,” he said.

Geoffrey Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, also confirmed to Delaware State News that "3-5" prison guards have been taken hostage and that inmates have secured control of a building.

JTVCC houses about 2,500 prisoners and, as a Level 5 facility, includes some of the state's most violent criminals.

Here is a live feed of the scene from Fox 29:


The JTVCC released the following statement earlier today:


The incident was first reported at 10:55 a.m. when Citizens’ Hose Company received a call and proceeded to the facility at 1181 Paddock Road. Clayton and Cheswold run logs also showed their companies responded.

Shortly after, observers reported a helicopter circling the prison and around 1 p.m., six ambulances from various companies arrived within 10 minutes.

The prison was placed on lockdown along with all other Level V DOC facilities statewide.