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2 North Carolina prison employees killed in attempted prisoner escape

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. -- Two employees at a North Carolina Prison were killed and several others injured during an attempted prisoner escape Thursday, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Officials with the Pasquotank Correctional Institution say inmates started a fire in the facility's specialty sewing plant, where about 30 inmates work in the plant producing embroidered logo items, safety vests and other sewn items, around 3 p.m. After the fire was set, several inmates unsuccessfully attempted to escape.

In an update shortly before 5:30 p.m., NC Public Safety said PCI is currently under lockdown and the situation is now under control.

The facility is able to house approximately 900 inmates, but Wednesday's inmate count is at 725.

According to Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools, Northside Elementary, Elizabeth City Middle School and Pasquotank County High School were placed on lockdown shortly after news of the incident broke. However, as of approximately 4:45 p.m., the lockdown has been lifted and students and staff are currently being dismissed. After school events and athletics have been cancelled.

The College of the Albemarle Elizabeth City campus has also been closed due to safety concerns.

A spokesperson with Sentara Albemarle Medical Center said the hospital has received nine patients, while Sentara Norfolk General Hospital has received 10. Three out of the 10 have been transferred from SAMC to SNGH. The remaining seven patients are at SAMC.

There will be no updates on patient conditions until Friday.

As of 6:15 p.m., the state has confirmed that there are no missing inmates after three head counts. The facility remains under control and on lockdown.

Members of the Prison Emergency Response Team responded to PCI from other state prison facilities and are assisting the local prison staff. The Pasquotank County Sheriff's Department, along with the State Bureau of Investigation, are investigating the incident.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued the following statement Thursday night:

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.

North Carolina Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks and Chief Deputy Secretary W. David Guice also released statements offering their condolences for the victims' families and coworkers as well as expressing gratitude for the assistance of law enforcement and emergency responders.