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Official: Guards Taken Hostage by Inmates at Delaware Prison

DOVER, Del. (CBS NEWS)-- Delaware prisons were locked down Wednesday as authorities responded to a hostage situation at the state’s maximum security facility.

Geoffrey Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, said he was told by the Department of Correction commissioner that prison guards had been taken hostage at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna. The DOC said in a statement to CBS News they are responding along with state police to a hostage situation. The statement did not elaborate on who had been taken hostage or how many hostages were reported.

A DOC spokeswoman said only that an emergency situation was reported at the Smyrna prison late Wednesday morning. The facility was placed on lockdown, as were all prisons in the state per DOC policy. Spokeswoman Jayme Gravell provided few details but described the situation as an isolated incident, adding that there was no threat to the public.

Gravell said firefighters were called to the scene after reports of smoke, but were being held on standby. An alarm was sounded around 11:30 a.m., the station reports.

Video from above the prison shows uniformed officers gathered in two groups along fences near an entrance to the prison. Later, video showed several people surrounding a stretcher and running as they pushed it across the compound. It wasn’t clear if a person was on the stretcher. People could be seen standing near a set of doors with an empty stretcher and wheelchair.

According to the department’s website, the prison is Delaware’s largest correctional facility for men, housing about 2,500 inmates. It houses minimum, medium, and maximum security inmates, and also houses Kent County detainees awaiting trial. It is also the site of the state’s death row. The prison opened in 1971.

In 2004, an inmate raped a counselor and took her hostage for nearly seven hours at the Smyrna prison, according to an Associated Press report at the time. A department sharpshooter later shot and killed 45-year-old Scott Miller, according to the report, ending the standoff.

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