Report: Prison employees under attack for nearly 20 minutes before help arrived

Prison Attempted Escape
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In this Thursday, Oct. 12, photo, police vehicles are seen outside Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City following a failed prison break. Prison employees were under attack by inmates for nearly 20 minutes before help arrived, an internal prison report shows.


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Prison employees were under attack by inmates at Pasquotank Correctional Institution for nearly 20 minutes before help arrived, an internal prison report shows.

The report, first obtained by WBTV in Charlotte and published in a story Tuesday night, documents the events of the Oct. 12 attack that resulted in the deaths of two prison employees and sent 10 others to the hospital, two of whom have since died.

The document also shows the incident, a failed escape attempt, continued for nearly 45 minutes before the last would-be escapee surrendered to prison staff.

N.C. Public Safety spokesman Jerry Higgins, reached Thursday morning, confirmed that the report on which the WBTV story is based, is an internal prison document. He declined to answer questions or comment on the report’s contents, however.

Four inmates — Mikel Brady, 28, Wisezah Buckman, 29, Seth Frazier, 33, and Jonathan Monk, 30 — were indicted on Monday by a Pasquotank County grand jury on two counts each of first-degree murder.

The four inmates are charged in the deaths of Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden and Correctional Officer Justin Smith. The inmates have also been indicted on a host of other charges in connection with the failed prison break.

The four inmates are also likely to face third and fourth counts of first-degree murder following the deaths at a Virginia hospital of Correctional Officer Wendy Shannon on Monday and maintenance mechanic Geoffrey Howe on Thursday. Both Shannon and Howe were gravely injured in the attack.

The document obtained by WBTV, an infraction report on inmate Brady, outlines minute by minute what happened during the inmates’ attacks on Darden, Smith, Shannon, Howe and one other prison employee, Correctional Officer George Midgett.

The document obtained by WBTV, an infraction report on inmate Brady, outlines minute by minute what happened during the inmates’ attacks on Darden, Smith, Shannon and two other prison employees, maintenance employee Geoffrey Howe and Correctional Officer George Midgett.

According to the document, the incident started at approximately 2:43 p.m. with Brady and Frazier waiting in a corridor by a Correction Enterprise freight elevator. As Darden entered the area, Brady and Frazier began assaulting her, the report states.

Brady then went to the sewing plant where Darden and Smith worked and gave Buckman a claw hammer. Buckman went to the plant storeroom, where he joined Monk in assaulting Smith with the hammer. Brady also participated in the attack on Smith, the report states.

At approximately 2:58 p.m., the inmates apparently used a prison employee’s radio to make a false report of an incident in another part of the prison. Brady then started a fire in the plant storeroom.

As the four inmates headed toward the freight elevator about 3 p.m., prison staff began issuing a number of alerts for the sewing plant and the loading dock.

As the four inmates exited the freight elevator, they attacked Howe and Shannon. About a minute later, Buckman and Frazier entered the loading dock area with carts, apparently containing tools and supplies needed for the inmates’ escape attempt.

Midgett was dragged by Brady and Frazier back to a corridor, where Howe and Shannon were attacked, the report states.

After the four inmates left the loading dock, staff began pursuing them. The inmates moved toward a modified yard fence, but met resistance from staff, the report notes.

At approximately 3:08 p.m., Brady, Buckman and Frazier scaled the modified yard fence. Monk attempted to scale the fence but was captured.

As prison staff pursed Brady, Buckman and Frazier, all three managed to get to another fence which splits the modified yard from another prison yard.

Brady and Frazier began climbing through the fence, which separated an area between that fence and the prison’s outer fence. At approximately 3:26 p.m., however, Brady crawled back through the fence and surrendered.

A swarm of emergency personnel and law enforcement officers responded to the prison, which was immediately put on lockdown.

Following the incident, all four inmates were transferred from PCI to other prisons in North Carolina. Brady and Frazier are currently being held at Central Prison in Raleigh, while Buckman and Monk are being held at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner.

N.C. Public Safety records show Brady is incarcerated for the attempted first-degree murder of a state trooper. Buckman is in prison for second-degree murder, while Monk is incarcerated for attempted first-degree murder and Frazier is in prison for first-degree burglary.

The report that documents the events of the Oct. 12 attempted prison break was written as an infraction report on Brady.

WBTV, prioring to airing its story Tuesday evening, contacted N.C. Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker for comment.

The station said Walker responded by advising it not publish the report, advising it was a confidential document and had been obtained illegally from a state computer.

In its story, WBTV said the report had not been obtained illegally.

Walker couldn’t immediately be reached for this story, but Higgins cited Walker’s comments when asked about the report on Thursday.

“It is an internal document that is not public record that they (WBTV) did have,” Higgins said.

Higgins said he couldn’t comment on the accuracy of the specifics in the report. He said he also couldn’t comment on how the report was leaked to the media.

“It (the incident) is still under investigation,” he said.