Two corrections officers attacked with weapon by inmates at Lanesboro prison

Connell (Source: North Carolina Department of Public Safety)
Connell (Source: North Carolina Department of Public Safety)
McCray (Source: North Carolina Department of Public Safety)
McCray (Source: North Carolina Department of Public Safety)
Norman (Source: North Carolina Department of Public Safety)
Norman (Source: North Carolina Department of Public Safety)

POLKTON, NC (WBTV) - Two corrections officers were attacked at the Lanesboro Correctional Institution last week, according to an internal document obtained by WBTV and multiple sources familiar with the attack.

According to the internal document obtained by WBTV, the two corrections officers were attacked by inmates using a weapon on February 20, 2018.

Multiple sources familiar with the attack tell WBTV two inmates were involved in the attack and a third inmate tried to hide the weapon used in the attack.

WBTV is withholding the names of the corrections officers to protect their privacy.

The sources with knowledge of the attack tell WBTV both employees were taken from the prison by ambulance. One of the corrections officers, sources said, required dozens of stitches.

A source with knowledge of the incident tells WBTV inmate Tyshon McCray started the attack on the corrections officer. A second inmate, Jeremy Norman, was also involved, the source said.

Information listed for Norman on the NCDPS offender registry shows he was disciplined in November 2017 for threatening to harm or injure staff.

The internal prison document identifies Roger D. Connell, Jr. as the inmate who tried to hide the weapon used in the attack.

Information listed for Connell on the NCDPS offender registry shows he had accrued 15 infractions prior to the attack on February 20. Among the previous infractions listed for Connell is "assault person w/ weapon" in October 2015.

Prison officials have taken steps to conceal the incident since it happened, WBTV has learned, including not sending a written summary of the incident in the regular daily report, WBTV was told.

A spokesman for the state's prison system responded to WBTV's request for comment to confirm our reporting late Thursday afternoon, after this story was published.

Kenneth Lassiter, Director of Prisons, issued a statement but did not address why the incident was not included in the prison's daily report on the day it happened.

"It's unfortunate that our two staff members were assaulted while carrying out their duties. This is an example of the increasing challenges our correctional officers face with the more violent inmate population," Lassiter said. "As we continue our efforts to improve safety in our facilities, we must be mindful that our correctional officers continue to face challenges while working daily to protect the public and preserve order within prison facilities."

Spokesman Jerry Higgins offered this explanation for why a WBTV photographer was made to stop recording and kicked off the prison property:

"It is regrettable that the cameraperson was asked to leave prison property today, but had you called ahead or worked with the Communications Office, your request to videotape would have been accommodated," Higgins said.

There is no state law prohibiting the shooting of non-drone video in publicly-accessible parts of prison property. Higgins' email did not explain why the agency has a policy that requires reporters seek permission to shoot video on public property, which runs counter to centuries of case law regarding the First Amendment.

Also in the statement, Higgins renewed DPS's refusal for an on-camera interview.

"As has been communicated with your news director, the department leadership is more than willing to speak with another reporter from WBTV," Higgins said.

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