Inmates at Mass. prison evacuated after inmate assaults CO, starts fire
A female CO was assaulted with an 'unknown liquid' through the food slot on an inmate's cell door
SHIRLEY, Mass. — Multiple inmates at a Massachusetts prison were evacuated from their cells Tuesday after a prisoner assaulted a correction officer and then started a fire, officials said.
A female officer at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley was assaulted around noon with an “unknown liquid” by an inmate through a food slot on his cell door, authorities said. She was escorting medical staff while they were dispensing medications to prisoners when the incident took place.
The inmate grabbed the officer, who was able to pull free, then started to light items on fire in his cell. An emergency response was initiated, and the Lancaster Fire Department responded, according to a statement from Jason Dobson, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Correction.
“Staff successfully evacuated the inmate from his cell and extinguished the fire,” the statement said. “Inmates in adjacent cells have been evacuated and are being treated for smoke inhalation as necessary by medical staff at the prison.”
The correction officer and prisoner who assaulted her are being treated at a nearby hospital, according to Dobson.
The assault and fire happened within one of the facility’s restrictive housing units, according to authorities. Evidence suggests the fire was started with a battery the prisoner had in his radio.
The prison is not on lockdown status, officials said.
The maximum-security facility was previously locked down after four correction officers were attacked by prisoners on Jan. 10.
Allegations arose after the attack a tactical team at the prison was assaulting dozens of inmates in retaliation. The prisoners, some of whom have sued DOC, have said they had no involvement with the assault on the officers. The accusations have prompted involvement from defense attorneys and advocacy groups as well as visits to the prison from state legislators.
In court filings from DOC, the agency said Souza-Baranowski staff received threats of assault, rape and murder after the facility was placed on lockdown. To prevent future attacks on officers, several inmates were transferred to other facilities. Other prisoners with “serious disciplinary infractions” were moved to the north side of the facility, while prisoners without infractions were kept on the south side.
The agency did not comment on the inmates’ allegations of assault in its court documents.
- Officer Safety