Pen search fails to turn up second gun in failed escape bid

July 20, 1991|By M. Dion Thompson

Prison officials searching a cell block where inmates held two correctional officers hostage this week found several homemade weapons yesterday, but not the second of two guns they believe inmates used in a failed escape attempt.

"They've found numerous shanks and broken mop handles, or pieces of wood that could be used as weapons," said Sgt. Gregory M. Shipley, spokesman for the Division of Correction.

The Maryland Penitentiary remained under lockdown yesterday, meaning visitors were not allowed and inmates could leave their cells only for meals.

On Thursday, state police investigators and correctional officers found a loaded .32-caliber revolver hidden in a pipe conduit behind two cells in the prison's C Dormitory, which prisoners held for 23 hours after the botched escape attempt.

Though the second gun has not been found, other aspects of the investigation continued as authorities interviewed inmates from C Dormitory and the corrections officers who were taken hostage.

Still, Sergeant Shipley said prison officials have not yet identified the inmates responsible for the attempted escape and the resulting hostage crisis.

During the uprising, many inmates disguised themselves by wearing homemade masks.

"It's not like television where the investigation is over in an hour," Sergeant Shipley said. "You are dealing with inmates as your witnesses, and it is very difficult to gather information from those types of witnesses."

Prison officials hope to file criminal charges against the inmates who were responsible for this week's crisis at the state's maximum-security prison. Once they have been identified, those inmates also will have to face administrative hearings within the prison system.

Because of the ongoing investigation, inmates from C Dormitory have been moved out of their cells.

Since Wednesday, more than 200 have been sleeping in the prison's recreation yard, while another 23 have chosen to sleep in the prison's west wing. Prisoners in the yard have been sleeping in tents on loan from the National Guard.

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