Disturbance leaves 2 inmates dead at Nebraska prison

Prisoners burn objects as they mill in a courtyard behind razor wire at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in Tecumseh, Neb., Thursday, March 2, 2017. The prison has been placed on lockdown and inmates are refusing to return to their cells. Officials say approximately 40 inmates are involved in the disturbance. No injuries have been reported. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

TECUMSEH, Neb. (AP) — Officials say two inmates died and others were injured in a disturbance at a Nebraska prison.

Corrections officials say in a statement that two inmates died Thursday in the incident at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution.

Officials didn’t provide details about how the inmates died but noted the disturbance involved about 40 inmates who refused to return to their cells.

No prison staffers were injured.

The Tecumseh prison was the site of a deadly riot in May 2015 that also left two dead and extensive property damage.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

A Nebraska prison was placed on lockdown for roughly three hours Thursday after inmates in a housing unit refused to return to their cells and a fire was started in a yard.

Prison officials said about 40 of unit’s 128 inmates were involved in the disturbance at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, the site of a deadly riot in May 2015. An emergency response team secured the inmates and extinguished a fire in a prison yard, a corrections department spokeswoman said early Thursday evening.

No injuries were reported. All staff members were safe and accounted for, and the incident was isolated to half of the housing unit and a small fenced yard, said Department of Correctional Services spokeswoman Dawn-Renee Smith. Smith said the public was not at risk. Prison officials announced the lockdown around 2:45 p.m. and said around 5:30 p.m. that the housing unit was “habitable and secure.”

Inmates in gray hooded sweatshirts could be seen waving their arms in the yard Thursday afternoon as prison guards watched them from behind a razor wire fence. Smoke billowed from the open yard and a helicopter circled overhead. County and state officials were at the scene, along with a prison emergency response team.

The 2015 riot at the prison in southeast Nebraska injured several staff members, caused widespread damage and left two inmates dead.

Mike Marvin, who heads the union that represents corrections employees, said he was told that inmates had taken mattresses out into the prison yard and threw them into the fire. Marvin said he didn’t know why the inmates were protesting, but he believes the incident is taking place in the same unit as the 2015 riot.

“We don’t know a lot at this point,” he said.

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