June 27, 2018 10:22 PM
Two law enforcement sources first confirmed that the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights was placed under lockdown Wednesday after a staff member was seriously injured.
Minnesota Department of Corrections spokesperson Sarah Fitzgerald later confirmed KSTP's information, and said the prison is still on lockdown.
"A corrections officer in the sergeant rank was seriously attacked by an offender at the Minnesota Correctional Facility — Oak Park Heights this morning," Fitzgerald said. "The sergeant fought back and was then assisted by the full force of our correctional officer response. The attack is under investigation, so other details cannot be released at this time. The facility is locked down. The sergeant's injuries are non-life threatening.
Regions Hospital confirmed the corrections officer was admitted to the hospital, but did not give an update on his condition.
Multiple sources told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the inmate used a razor blade to slash the face of the sergeant, who was taken by ambulance and had surgery to make sure no major arteries in his neck had been damaged during the attack.
Those sources said the officer is expected to be OK, but this latest attack has staff on edge because more than a half-dozen officers have been assaulted by inmates in the past six months.
Fitzgerald said the inmate in Wednesday's attack is likely to end up with a referral for prosecution to the Washington County Attorney's Office.
KSTP asked prosecutors if any of the inmates from the previous assaults on officers at Oak Park Heights had yet been prosecuted. The DOC said those were still open investigations, but they were pursuing them with the intent to prosecute if needed.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput told KSTP he is ready to prosecute anyone who attacks a corrections officer, but had yet to see any referrals cross his desk. Even though several months have passed since those assaults on prison staff occurred at Oak Park Heights.
"I can tell you I have not seen any cases in my office yet," Orput said. "I am ready for them, and I expect a deluge after what's happened. And even if the inmates already face lengthy sentences, I will make them longer because it is the only way to protect corrections officers inside those walls."
According to Fitzgerald, the offender was serving a life sentence for aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Sources said the inmate in Wednesday's incident has been identified by prison staff as Josh Smith.
KSTP is working to get more details on this story and will post updates as more information becomes available. Stay with 5 Eyewitness News and KSTP.com as we follow this story.
Ben Rodgers/Jay Kolls
Updated: June 27, 2018 10:22 PM
Created: June 27, 2018 02:01 PM
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