Two Held Hostage in Ongoing Situation at Delaware Prison

iStock/Thinkstock(SMYRNA, Del.) — Two prison employees have been released, along with dozens of inmates, during an ongoing hostage situation in Delaware, according to authorities.

But two corrections officers are still being held hostage at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, the state's Department of Correction said in a statement early Thursday morning.

"The hostage situation at James T. Vaughn continues at this hour," Geoff Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, said in a statement late Wednesday night. "We still have officers in harms way in the building. While we have Corrections Officers as hostages, we will make no further comments. Now is not the time to point fingers and lay blame. We pray for the safe release of the hostages and the peaceful end to this latest crisis."

The incident began around 10:30 a.m. when four employees were taken hostage, Bratz said at a news conference.

The first staff member, a corrections officer, was released around 2:25 p.m. and had sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said Delaware Department of Corrections Commissioner Perry Phelps. At around 5:20 p.m., eight prison inmates were released from C building, and at just before 8 p.m., another corrections officer, along with 19 inmates, were released as well.

It is unclear whether the prison inmates were held against their will, said Delaware Department of Homeland Security Secretary Robert Coupe. The conditions of the inmates released are unclear as well, Coupe added. The C building houses about 100 inmates, Bratz said.

Authorities initially reported that five employees had been taken hostage, but a fifth employee, who was supposed to be in the C building, was later located at a different location on prison grounds, Coupe said.

The Department of Corrections and the FBI are continuing negotiations for a peaceful resolution through the radio of one of the corrections officers, Coupe said. The inmates in C building also have access to television and could have been watching the live press conference, he added.

When asked by a reporter what he would tell the hostage-takers, Coupe said, "I would like to tell them that we would like to resolve this peacefully."

"We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of everyone involved," Bratz said.

Coupe said talks about prison conditions and inmates' privileges would not begin until the hostage situation is "resolved safely."

When asked by a reporter if the prison is understaffed, Phelps said the department had already launched a staffing analysis prior to the incident "to determine the amount of staff needed."

"We are constantly recruiting to try and fill our vacancies, and we're in the middle of that now," he said.

The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center is Delaware's largest male correctional facility, with approximately 2,500 inmates.

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