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Guard Rescued At SC Prison; Officers Control Unit

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File photo of a prison  (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a prison (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A guard held hostage at a South Carolina high security prison was rescued early Wednesday after a standoff of more than six hours, a corrections department spokesman said.

The officer was rescued and prison officials regained control of the building around 3:15 a.m. when negotiations with the inmates failed, said Clark Newsom, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections.

About 100 corrections officers and State Law Enforcement Division agents blew open a door and regained control of the building. The inmates did not resist, Newsom said. The correctional officer had been dressed in an inmate’s uniform to disguise him but he was recognized and rescued, Newsom said.

During the standoff, the inmates never left the wing of the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville and there was no danger to the community, Newsom said.

“No attempt was made to actually get out,” Newsom said. “That probably would have been fruitless because there were so many officers on the grounds.”

The officer appeared to have a suffered a head injury that was not thought to be serious and was taken to a hospital for evaluation. His name has not been released.

No other injuries were immediately reported.

A nurse escorted by a guard was passing out medicine around 9 p.m. Tuesday when some inmates overpowered the guard. The nurse was able to escape.

Newsom did not know how many inmates were involved in the attack, but there were 116 inmates in the unit. There are some surveillance cameras in the unit that are being reviewed. A number of inmates will be questioned in what Newsom said is likely to be a long investigation.

He said some inmates with illegal cell phones called Lee County dispatchers about the seizure of the guard.

“There were ongoing conversations through the evening; nothing was happening concrete and that made us think it was a pretty disorganized effort,” Newsom said. That prompted officers to attack.

Not all of the inmates in the unit were involved in the attack. Some of the inmates who weren’t involved barricaded themselves in their cells during the standoff, Newsom said.

The prison opened in 1993, replacing the Central Correctional Institution in downtown Columbia.

“You’ve got murderers, you’ve got rapists, you’ve got some of the worst of the worst here,” Newsom said.

Bishopville is about 50 miles northeast of Columbia.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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