HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Two Die In Shootout At Federal Prison
Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jun 2006
Source: Tallahassee Democrat (FL)
Copyright: 2006 Tallahassee Democrat.
Note: Prints email address for LTEs sent by email
Author: Jeff Burlew, Democrat Staff Writer
Note: Daniela Velazquez, Debra Galloway, Julian Pecquet and Rebeccah 
Cantley-Falk contributed to this report.


Third Person Hurt; FBI To Open Its Inquiry Today

A team of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington 
D.C., will begin an investigation today of a shootout Wednesday that left 
two people dead and one seriously injured at the Federal Correctional 

"They will start first thing in the morning," said Michael Folmar, the 
FBI's special agent in charge in Jacksonville. "And they're the ones that 
are going to piece all of this together and put all the facts together."

The agents traveling to Tallahassee are part of the FBI's Shooting Incident 
Review Team.

At 7:42 a.m. Wednesday, shots rang out at the prison after agents with the 
FBI and the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General arrived 
to arrest six correctional officers. The officers were indicted Tuesday on 
multiple charges. The allegations against them include giving contraband to 
inmates in exchange for sex and intimidating inmates in an effort to cover 
up the scandal.

Five of the guards were arrested and taken into custody, but a sixth, Ralph 
Hill, used his personal handgun and shot at the agents, according to Scott 
Middlebrooks of the federal Bureau of Prisons. More gunfire ensued, and 
Hill was killed.

William "Buddy" Sentner, an agent with the Office of the Inspector General, 
also was killed. Sentner, in his mid-40s, was based in Orlando. He had a 
career spanning about 15 years, Folmar said.

A lieutenant with the Federal Bureau of Prisons was injured in the shooting 
and was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. He was listed in stable 
condition and is expected to recover. Officials said they were not 
releasing his name because not all family members had been notified.

The shooting began inside the lobby of the Federal Detention Center, 
adjacent to the correctional institution, and ended outside the center's 
doors, said John Newland, a spokesman for the Tallahassee Police 
Department. The detention center is a facility that houses men awaiting 
trial or awaiting transportation to another facility. The correctional 
institution houses low-security women.

The federal officers who had gone to arrest the guards apparently were not 
armed, Newland said.

"It was our understanding that law enforcement was not armed," he said, 
"because you're not allowed to bring a firearm onto federal grounds."

No inmates or civilians were involved in the shooting, and the complex was 
placed on lockdown and quickly declared secure.

Folmar said the guards were not aware of the federal indictment that had 
been handed down against them. In addition to Hill, those named in the 
indictment were Alfred Barnes, Gregory Dixon, Vincent Johnson, Alan Moore 
and E. Lavon Spence. All of the remaining guards except for Johnson were in 
the Wakulla County Jail. Johnson's location was unknown as of late 
Wednesday night.

"This arrest situation was done in a manner to be very controlled ... where 
nobody would have any weapons, and we could take this down so there 
wouldn't be any violence," Folmar said. "And this is exactly how it would 
be handled normally across the United States."

Folmar called it a "sad day" for law enforcement.

"These agents were out just trying to do their job, trying to do an arrest 
in a very controlled situation," he said. "And it just didn't go down 
exactly as planned."

Tallahassee police arrived on the scene within minutes, and their forensics 
team began processing the crime scene. Later, FBI agents arrived to go over 
the evidence at the scene. Newland said he was unaware of any similar 
shootings in his 18 years with TPD.

Allen Beck of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said that inmate 
assaults led to five staff deaths at federal and state correctional 
facilities from July 1, 1999, to June 30, 2000. The statistics are compiled 
every five years, and 2005 statistics are due by the end of the year. 
During the same time period in 1994 and 1995, there were 14 staff deaths.

The guards, with the exception of Johnson, were alleged to have had sex 
with inmates in exchange for contraband, according to the indictment. 
Johnson allegedly counseled an inmate not to cooperate with the investigation.

It wasn't the first time guards at the facility have been accused of having 
sex with an inmate. In 2000, K.P. Price was sentenced to probation in 
connection with charges that he had sex with and impregnated an inmate. The 
inmate later sued Price.

The Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee is along Capital Circle 
Northeast about 3 miles east of downtown. It is a low-security facility 
housing females. There is an adjacent Federal Detention Center that houses 
males who are awaiting trial or awaiting transportation to another prison. 
About 1,445 inmates are housed at both facilities.

Daniela Velazquez, Debra Galloway, Julian Pecquet and Rebeccah Cantley-Falk 
contributed to this report.
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