3 more guards stabbed at prison Officer knifed last night

December 05, 1990|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Evening Sun Staff

A headline in the final edition of The Evening Sun yesterday incorrectly said three more guards had been stabbed at the Maryland Penitentiary.

In fact, the guards received only minor injuries in a scuffle as they forcibly removed an inmate from his cell.

The Evening Sun regrets the error.

Three more correctional officers received minor injuries today as guards swept through the Maryland Penitentiary, conducting a shakedown in the wake of last night's stabbing of a guard in the prison's South Wing.

Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the state's Department of Corrections, said the three officers did not require hospital treatment following a scuffle with an inmate today.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

The officers had to forcibly remove the inmate, Shipley said, after they found a two-foot piece of metal in his cell that apparently had been removed from a bed support. The metal piece was found under the bed, Shipley said.

In last night's stabbing, the makeshift knife was a seven-inch blade also fashioned from a metal bed support, Shipley said. The metal had plastic wrapped around the handle, he added.

Wendell Winchester, 30, of Baltimore, a guard for nearly three years, was rushed last night by ambulance to the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore after being stabbed 11 times by an inmate, Shipley said. Winchester immediately underwent emergency surgery for his wounds, four of which were to the abdomen. He was listed in critical condition today, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Winchester allegedly was stabbed when he and another officer were checking a cell for an escape attempt. The other officer, Donald Webb, was not injured.

Shipley said after the stabbing, the inmate was moved yesterday to the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, the so-called "Supermax." The inmate is serving a life plus 10-year prison term for rape, battery and larceny and has been incarcerated since December 1976.

Shipley said the inmate's name would not be released until charges were filed against him. Shipley said pending charges include attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a deadly weapon and related charges. He said the inmate also faces administrative charges.

Meanwhile, the penitentiary remains in a lockdown today, and a state employees' union demanded that the 90-year-old South Wing be torn down and that the state boost pay and recruitment policies for correctional officers.

The Maryland Classified Employees Association was to formally make the demand this afternoon in a meeting with officials of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. MCEA officials said they also are asking the state to improve the recruitment of correctional officers and to implement a planned pay increase in January.

Calling the South Wing of the penitentiary "unsafe and dilapidated," Lance R. Cornine, MCEA executive director, said a new wing of the penitentiary should be constructed despite the cost.

"The damn thing is almost 100 years old," Cornine said.

The South Wing holds the state prison system's "baddest of the bad," inmates with severe disciplinary problems, Shipley said. Correctional Officer Herman Toulson was stabbed to death by an inmate there in 1984.

The attack on Winchester took place about 8 p.m. as he and Webb were making their rounds in "the flats," the first of the South Wing's five levels. Shipley said they were tapping the floors of the one-inmate cells with nightsticks to check for hollow sounds, a sign that an inmate is attempting to escape by tunneling under the cell floor.

Floor tapping is a routine penitentiary procedure, Shipley said.

When Winchester and Webb told an inmate to step out of his cell and stand aside so they could tap the floor, the inmate initially complied but then suddenly attacked Winchester from the rear, stabbing him with a 7-inch long homemade knife known as a shiv. He continued to stab the officer until Webb and other officers were able to subdue him.

The attack was so sudden that Winchester never had a chance to defend himself, Shipley said. The weapon was recovered.

Neither corrections officer was armed, but each was in radio contact with the prison's communications center while making rounds, Shipley said.

He said the inmate was forcibly removed from the scene and there were no other incidents by other inmates. All had been locked in their cells during the floor-tapping procedure.

Winchester was carried by fellow officers to the prison's infirmary for treatment before being taken by an ambulance to Shock-Trauma.

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