High-ranking manager seriously injured in inmate attack at NC prison

The inmates reportedly cut, beat and repeatedly stabbed unit manager Brent Soucier

By Ames Alexander, Colin Warren-Hicks and Ron Gallagher
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

RALEIGH, N.C. — A high-ranking manager at Central Prison in Raleigh was seriously injured after two inmates attacked him with a homemade weapon Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

The assault sent unit manager Brent Soucier to a nearby hospital, where prison officials said he was being treated for "serious injury." Sources said the inmates cut, beat and repeatedly stabbed Soucier.

Nightfall descends on Central prison in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Nightfall descends on Central prison in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

At 8 p.m., officials said Soucier was in "stable condition."

The attack occurred around 12:30 p.m. in the housing portion of the prison, according to Pamela Walker, spokesperson for the N.C. Department of Public Safety. The area was placed on lockdown.

The inmates accused of assaulting Soucier have been identified as Jaquan Lane, 23, and Andrew Ellis, 32. Both were hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety..

Lane, who was convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon, was taken to a local hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries, DPS said. Since 2016, prison officials have cited Lane four times for assaulting staff members. He was also cited in 2016 and 2017 for involvement with a gang.

Ellis, considered a habitual felon, was convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon and discharging a firearm in an occupied building.

Both had been transferred to Central Prison in recent months from Lanesboro Correctional Institution, southeast of Charlotte.

The incident is under investigation, Walker said, and the State Bureau of Investigation is involved.

Soucier, 44, has worked for the prison system for 19 years. He was one of the officers named in a 2013 federal lawsuit alleging that officers at Central Prison frequently beat handcuffed inmates in parts of the prison that weren’t monitored by video cameras. The state reached settlements with all but one of the eight inmates who filed that lawsuit.

Many of North Carolina's prisons have been struggling with dangerous staff shortages, the Charlotte Observer has reported.

Better staffing might have saved the lives of the five prison employees who died in attacks last year at two Eastern North Carolina prisons, experts and officers told the Observer.

State figures show that in April 2017, when Sgt. Meggan Callahan was killed at Bertie Correctional Institution, roughly one of every five correctional officer positions there was vacant.

And at Pasquotank Correctional Institution – where four employees were fatally injured during a failed escape attempt on Oct. 12 – the staffing problems have been even worse. In October, more than 28 percent of officer positions were vacant – up from 17 percent three years earlier.

N.C. Rep. Bob Steinburg, R- Edenton, said he has become alarmed by the frequency of serious assaults on prison officers.

"The governor has got to get off his duff and do something," Steinburg said.

Staff writer Joe Marusak contributed.

©2018 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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