16-year corrections department veteran identified as victim of hostage takers

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Carney

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A veteran of the Delaware Department of Corrections was identified as the hostage who diedat the James Vaughn Correctional Institution.

He was identified as Sgt. Steven Floyd, a 16-year staff member of the department.

The announcement was made at a press conference held at Delaware State Police Troop 2 in Glasgow on Thursday morning.

On hand were Gov. John Carney, Department of Public Safety Director and former Corrections chief Robert Coupe and current corrections chief Perry Phelps. They were flanked by State Police, Corrections Department officials and members of the General Assembly.

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Carney said an investigation would leave “no stone unturned” in bringing those responsible to justice and finding ways to ensure a similar incident would not happen again.

Both Perry and Carney fought back tears in discussing the loss of Floyd. Perry has served with the department for more than two decades.

Carney said he ordered all flags in the state to fly at half mast.

Coupe said that all 120 inmates in the unit are officially suspects in the hostage incident that had occurred nearly 24 hours earlier in the C building at the 2,500-inmate prison in southern New Castle County near Smyrna. The unit is now being processed as a crime scene.

While many inmates left the unit during the incident, it is possible that perpetrators were not among those who stayed in the unit until the tactical team entered the building, Coupe acknowledged.

As reported earlier, one hostage was quickly released with another freed hours later, Coupe reported. Three maintenance workers who hid in the basement from the inmates were freed by a tactical team.

On the scene during the ordeal were Department of Corrections personnel, State Police, the FBI and Maryland State Police personnel.

According to Coupe inmates sought water in hostage negotiations, only to fill up footlockers that provided a barrier to entry.

Inmates used a radio taken from a guard to make their demands, with transmissions for a time captured and streamed on the Internet. After being informed of the streaming, the state was able to end the streaming.

As negotiations continued, a tactical response was being planned. Battering the entrance with a vehicle proved to be unsuccessful, and a Department of Corrections backhoe was successfully used to penetrate the building.

The building was entered after 5 a.m., with a female hostage found with no injuries. There was evidence that some inmates had shielded the woman, according to Coupe.

However, Floyd was found unresponsive and was declared dead.

An autopsy will be conducted. Coupe acknowledged that sharp objects often made by inmates were believed to have been used, although he would not offer any other details, citing the continuing investigation.

The C building is used for inmates who are moving up or down in the disciplinary process at the prison, according to Coupe.

More than a decade ago, the Smyrna prison was the site of a hostage incident that led to the rape of a counselor.

The Cape Gazette reported thatat a second press conference held by the Correction Officers Association, the outgoing Markell administration was blamed for staffing problems that led to the incident.

At the first press conference, Coupe, who served as corrections chief in the final years of the Markell administration, said staffing was adequate at the time of the incident.

Coupe acknowledged that staffing remains an issue, with 90 or so vacancies across the corrections system. However, overtime and when necessary curtailing visitation or other services are used to ensure the safety of staff.

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