Burke Co. correctional officer recovering in hospital after being stabbed by inmate multiple times

(Corey Schmidt | WBTV)
(Corey Schmidt | WBTV)

BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A correctional officer at the Foothills Correctional Institution in Burke County is recovering in the hospital after being stabbed multiple times by an inmate over the weekend.

North Carolina Department of Public Safety confirmed the assault on Twitter Sunday morning.

The officer was stabbed five times by the inmate at 9:33 p.m. Saturday and transported to an outside medical facility.

The correctional officer, who WBTV has learned was just hired into the prison system in January, is in stable condition.

A spokeswoman with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety confirmed that inmate Jose Rios, 19, was under investigation as the alleged suspect in the stabbing.

Rios was convicted in July 2017 on two counts of second-degree murder.

Rios' offender records on the NCDPS website show that he had been cited for six previous behavior infractions in the roughly six months he had been in prison.

Among the infractions were two instances of threatening to harm or injure staff.

Sources with direct knowledge of the operations at Foothills Correction Institution tell WBTV that prison staff had been warned of a possible attack on staff by an inmate in the days before Saturday's stabbing. But that information was not communicated to the corrections officers until after the incident on Saturday.

In a statement, Director of Prisons Kenneth Lassiter did not address questions of whether senior prison leadership had been warned of a possible attack by an inmate but chose not to share that information with the prison’s staff.

Lassiter issued the following statement:

"Rios has a history of assaultive and threatening behavior as evidenced by the crime that landed him in prison and the rules infractions he has been charged with since his incarceration. I appreciate the prompt response of the other prison staff who came to the officer's aid and we are all hopeful the officer, who remains in stable condition, will be released from the hospital very soon. I am also grateful to the law enforcement that are investigating the assault and I want to see the inmate prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As I and others have been stating, the inmates the prison system must now manage are increasingly more violent than in years past and it will take everyone from employees, to our law enforcement partners, as well as the Executive and Legislative branches to make our prisons safer."

The officer injured in Saturday’s attack marks the 11th corrections officer to be injured on the job in a North Carolina prison since early February.

RELATED: Seven corrections officers attacked in NC prisons this week

Five prison employees, including corrections officers and support staff, were killed on the job in 2017.

WBTV has been investigating ongoing safety concerns inside the state's prisons, even as prison leaders refuse to answer questions.

Watch WBTV Monday night at 6 p.m. as prison leaders try to run and hide from a reporter asking them questions about the ongoing dangers inside the state's prisons.

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