ELIZABETH CITY, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Two prison employees were killed and several others injured during an attempted escape Thursday afternoon at Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City, according to officials.
The two employees have been identified as Correctional Officer Justin Smith, 35, and Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden, 50.
Smith provided security in the Correction Enterprises Specialty Sewing Plant. He had worked as a correctional officer since 2012. Darden supervised inmates working in the Specialty Sewing Plant. She had been a Correction Enterprises employee since 2007 and previously worked as a correctional officer.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety said inmates started a fire in the prison's sewing plant around 3:00 p.m. About 30 inmates work inside the sewing plant.
Several inmates attempted to escape but were not successful. The prison is under control and the locked down has not been lifted. All inmates have been accounted for in multiple counts according to officials.
Pasquotank Correctional Institution houses 725 male inmates in close, medium and minimum custody.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff's Department, along with SBI, are investigating the incident.
Gov. Roy Cooper shared the following statement on the deaths:
"Those who work in our prisons do a difficult and demanding job that is critical to our safety. We're grateful to these fallen prison employees for their service, and we offer our condolences to their families, friends, coworkers and community on this tragic loss."