The search for answers following deadly NC prison break attempt

We are digging deeper into the attempted prison break in Pasquotank County, North Carolina.

ELIZABETH CITY, NC (WVEC) -- We are searching for more answers after an attempted prison escape left two people dead and put a community on edge.

There are a lot of moving parts, because several agencies from the state and locality deal with the Pasquotank Correctional Institution.

“We do have a mass casualty incident,” a dispatcher said over the radio Thursday. “I have multiple patients, some of them are critical."

Of those patients, Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden, would not make it. Darden supervised inmates in the Specialty Sewing Plant at the prison. It is one of 32 operations across the state.

Corrections Enterprise is a state agency and part of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. It is a unique operation established through state statute. The goal is to rehabilitate inmates by teaching them job skills they can use on the outside. Darden worked there since 2007.

The Pasquotank Sheriff's Office handles all criminal incidents at the prison. We've asked the sheriff for the total number of these kinds of calls and the circumstances surrounding them, for the last few years.

We also are looking into whether or not the State Bureau of Investigation, which would come in after the fact on the investigative side, has had to respond there.

North Carolina state prisons are supposed to be tightly run ships. They operate to keep correctional officers, staff and inmates safe. The prisons are operated under the policy and procedure manual we obtained.

As part of the regular routine to try to prevent something like this from happening on the front end, North Carolina prisons are inspected. In addition to daily inspections listed in the manual, region directors come in annually to take a look.

The goal is "detecting and eliminating all hazards to the security, health, sanitation, safety, and welfare of staff and inmates at the facility."

We are waiting to see those records from the Department of Public Safety.

The manual also spells out rules on the use of tools, like the ones that could be used in the Specialty Sewing Plant, where Darden supervised inmates. There, inmates produce goods for the state. It reads controlling the tools "is a critical component of the facility's security plan."

One section lists tools that could be used as weapons or to help an inmate escape.

On Thursday, a dispatcher described injuries to one officer as having been “struck multiple times with a hammer."

Hammers are not specifically listed in the manual.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, officials didn't give details about many aspects of the investigation, but this safety policy of the manual sheds some light on the next steps.

It reads, "supervisors shall immediately take necessary corrective action to prevent reoccurrence." Investigators will be going over this incident to find out exactly what happened.

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